Paragraph 2 of DepEd Memorandum No. 291 s. 2008 provides the general guidelines on the working hours of teachers wherein a public school teacher shall, at most, render six (6) hours of actual classroom teaching a day. But not all teachers are given the privilege to go home after rendering 6-hours actual classroom teaching. Here’s why.
In appreciating an administrative rule, one must consider the administrative rule in its entirety. In paragraph 1 of the said DepEd Memorandum, it is clearly provided that:
a. Public school teachers are not exempt from the eight-hour workday provided for in R.A. No. 1880;
b. The limitation given in R.A. No. 4670 pertains to the time devoted to actual classroom teaching which shall not exceed six (6) hours a day; and
c. The remaining two (2) hours of work to complete the required eight-hour workday may be spent within or outside the school premises subject to the guidelines of the Secretary of Education
Assuming that a teacher has completed six hours of actual classroom teaching, how he/she renders the remaining two hours of her working hours should still be pursuant to existing guidelines, even if it will be used for the preparation of teaching materials, home visitation, or other teaching-related activities.
Also, paragraph 4 of DM 291 s. 2008 states that:
“In addition to the general guidelines, specific guidelines shall be formulated at the school level taking into account the unique conditions in schools, such as the shifting of classes, if applicable, the availability of faculty rooms, classrooms and teachers, and the nature of the teaching-related duties to be given priority.
Decisions on this matter shall be agreed upon in meetings with representatives of the school administration, teachers, students, and parents, preferably through the School Governing Council or any established mechanism for school-community partnership.”
Aside from this, CSC Resolution No. 080096 dated January 28, 2008, provides that:
“the CSC is of the view that the prescribed eight (8) hours of work of public school teachers may be observed such that the six (6) hours of actual classroom teaching are spent within the school premises while the two (2) hours for non-teaching duties may be spent within or outside the school premises, provided there is a mechanism to account for the teachers’ required output for two (2) hours as well as mechanism to evaluate the overall performance of teachers. The Department of Education shall formulate guidelines to this effect.”
Referring to the general guidelines, as found in paragraph 2 of DM 291 s. 2008, the said provision is telling us that the conduct of the remaining two hours is not subject to the teacher’s own discretion but it must be pursuant to existing guidelines – there should be a mechanism to account for the teachers’ required output for two (2) hours as well as mechanism to evaluate the overall performance of teachers. Therefore, a teacher should present an agreement to support the validity of his/her own activity plan before he/she can be permitted to go home after rendering six hours of actual teaching.
It appears that in addition to the general guidelines, specific guidelines shall be formulated at the school level, as agreed upon. Since the general guidelines did not specify the instances when the teaching-related activities and duties may be rendered within or outside the school premises, this could be addressed through the said specific guidelines brought about by agreements made during meetings intended for it. Without this agreement, no teacher could avail of this privilege.
Non-compliance and Different Interpretation
DepEd Central Office and Regional Offices have already issued clear guidelines to this effect. The problem is the non-compliance and different interpretations at the school level as to its correct application. The authority to formulate specific guidelines for the remaining two (2) hours to complete the eight (8) hours of work is given to the schools. Here are some of the reasons why the six (6) hours daily actual classroom teaching is not uniformly implemented in public schools:
- Lack of school head’s initiative to make an agreement with the teachers, parents, and students. Teachers are not authorized to call for a meeting intended for this.
- Class program designed for an 8-hour workday. Since the time interval between actual classroom teaching shall be counted as part of the two (2) hours spent for teaching-related activities, teachers have no choice but to complete the eight (8) hours in the school premises.
- Advisorship and/or special assignments combined are considered as only one (1) teaching load. Some of the duties of these special assignments which can only be done within the school premises demand more time than what others think.
- Lack of monitoring on the part of SDO to ensure full compliance with the guidelines.
The Civil Service Commission (CSC) recognizes that the work of public school teachers is distinct if not vital from the rest of other government employees. In their Resolution No. 080096, they vividly described their duties:
“Public school teachers experience high levels of stress, exhaustion and low morale while performing their work. It is true that their duties include actual classroom teaching but they are also expected to prepare their lessons, correct school exercises, counsel, mentor and guide their students in their day to day activities and most often participate in school-wide and even community-wide activities. In effect the hours spent for actual classroom teaching and the above-cited duties and responsibilities complete and at times even exceed the required 8-hour work day.
They are expected to perform with utmost commitment, effectiveness and competency. But this may be done if their needs are responded to in a manner that is most favourable to them but still within the parameters of existing rules. One way to respond to this is to construe certain rules and legislation providing for the terms and conditions of their work in a reasonable manner.”
The Civil Service Commission has ruled that the remaining two (2) hours to complete the eight (8) hour workday may be spent within or outside the school premises. The Department of Education has issued DepEd Memorandum 291, s. 2008 and DepEd Order 16, s. 2009 for its implementation. The Regional Offices has also issued a memorandum to this effect. One example is the Regional Memorandum No. 69, s. 2019 of Region V. However, it appears that the school heads, endowed with all the power at the school level, are still interpreting the implementation of the guidelines as subject to their own discretion. Who is authorized to call for a meeting to establish the mechanism for the agreement? Who has the authority in preparing the class program? Now we know where the problem is.
Basic is the rule that when the language of the law is clear and explicit, there is no room for interpretation, only application (G.R. No. 191084, March 25, 2010).