The Constitution provides that: “the States recognizes the complementary roles of public and private institutions in the educational system and shall exercise reasonable supervision and regulation of education institutions.” (Article XIV, Section 4)
To this end, “the States shall assign the highest budgetary priority to education and ensure that teaching will attract and retain its rightful share of the best available talents through the adequate remuneration and other means of job satisfaction and fulfillment,” (Article XIV, Section 5 ).
The role of our teachers in molding our youth and contributing to national development cannot be undermined. Aside from imparting knowledge; instilling and strengthening values; and teaching skills to the country’s most valuable asset, the people, they have the task of preparing our youth to become responsible members of our society. It is therefore only right that the Duterte administration gives their needs and welfare utmost priority.
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Our public school teachers are the unsung heroes of our society. They are tasked not only to mold the values of our youth but also compelled by law to dabble in as members of the Board of Election Inspectors during elections. They are the most exploited employees of the public sector, and yet they are unrecognized, ignored and worst neglected by our government.
Public school teachers are lowly paid compared to their counterparts in other countries and could not even afford to defray their daily needs. They are, sometimes, forced to augment their income by other means unrelated to their professions such as selling various goods and merchandise. Compounded to their woes are the soaring prices of essential commodities brought about by economic factors such as the unabated increase of fuel and other petroleum products which significantly diminished the purchasing power of their salaries.
Hence, it is high time to increase or adjust the meager salaries of public school teachers to enable them to cope with their daily needs and necessary household expenses.
INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS ALLOWANCE
It is not new for anyone to hear that public school teachers are underpaid. What is not known to most of us is the fact that the meager pay that teachers receive is further reduced by the cost of instructional materials that they often have to dig out of their own pockets.
These instructional materials come in the form of chalk, test papers, instruction module presentation, charts for clarity of explanation, maps, and other necessary tools that regularly cost money to produce and can only be used once for every student or every class session to enhance the teaching-learning interaction.
Disregarding the need to provide instructional materials’ allowance for teachers will not only lead to reduced pay for lowly paid teachers but also raise the specter of worsening the already poor quality of education that public schools students will receive.
Republic Act No. 4670 or the “Magna Carta for Public School Teachers”, provides, as a matter of policy, for the promotion and improvement of the social and economic status of public school teachers, their living and working conditions, their terms of employment and career prospects in order that they may compare favorably with existing opportunities in other walks of life, attract and retain in the teaching profession more people with the proper qualifications, it is recognized that advancement in education depends on the qualifications and ability of the teaching staff and that education is an essential factor in the economic growth of the nation as a productive investment of vital importance.
For education to become an essential key in the country’s global competitiveness, the State should provide for additional benefits and incentives to our teachers by enabling them to access institutionalized scholarship grants. This measure hopes to help in the nationwide effort to attract and retain exceptional and dedicated teachers who will nurture our young Filipinos to become productive partners in nation-building.
Mandate business establishments to grant discount privileges to public school teachers whose earning capabilities are adversely affected by the present economic situation in our country. They have been given little attention as far as their protection, security of their physical and social well-being by the government.
The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, high unemployment rate, soaring prices of basic commodities have severely strained the capacity of the public school teachers to provide a decent and dignified living necessitating the assistance and cooperation of the State.
Public school teachers often brave rain or shine to be present in their respective classes. In rural areas, they also have to walk mountains and hills aside from facing harsh and extreme weather conditions on their daily trip to work.
These circumstances make public school teachers more vulnerable to different types of illnesses. Consequently, medical expenses will bite into their meager income. The bottom line, health of public school teachers is seriously compromised which will also compromise the health of their students.
Neglecting their need for medical allowance will also result in the neglect for the health of both teachers and their students.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING UNITS FOR TEACHERS
The provision of shelter is a universally-recognized right of every man. The opportunity to live within the comforts of your own home with peace, security, and dignity is everyone’s dream. This is not so, unfortunately, for a significant number of Filipinos, among them teachers, despite the various housing programs being administered by different national shelter agencies, such as the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund), the National Housing Authority (NHA), the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS).
As one of the main pillars of a sound and progressive society due to their strategic role in shaping the future of our youth, our low-salaried teachers are being left out as recipients to such housing programs due mainly to strict financial requirements for a housing loan nowadays. It is only but proper and fitting that the government should recognize their efforts and sacrifices by allotting a portion of its budget for their shelter needs. As teachers are considered among the catalysts for national recovery, let us not forget that they are also our nation’s newest heroes. There is a need, therefore, to provide them affordable housing units to boost their morale and improve their quality of life.
REDUCE THE WORKING HOURS OF ALL PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS
Republic Act No. 4670, otherwise known as the “Magna Carta for Public School Teachers”, provides that teaching hours for teachers shall not be more than six hours. The Department of Education (DepEd) issued Memorandum 291 s. 2008 allowing teachers to allot six hours for actual classroom teaching per day while the remaining two hours to be spent in teaching-related activities. While strictly speaking the essence of the law is respected, this memorandum requires from them a total of eight hours for the day.
While teacher’s pay has been increased by recent enactments of law, they still clamor for higher pay and shorter working hours. Their present work schedule has left them stressed out and exhausted much to the detriment of our students. Reducing their number of working hours will allow them to rejuvenate, in mind and body, and allot more time for them to innovate and enhance classroom teaching.
Reduce the working hours of all public school teachers, whether engaged in actual classroom teaching or not, to a six-hour workday for a total of a thirty-hour workweek. As a result, they shall be exempted from Civil Service Rules which prescribes the generally established rule on an eight-hour workday.
COMPETITIVE GRANT PROGRAM TO RETAIN HIGHLY QUALIFIED TEACHERS IN RURAL COMMUNITIES
Brain drain is a common phenomenon over the last several decades. It involves many of our teachers who go abroad to seek greener pastures. As a result, we continue to lose teachers in our schools and unnecessarily increase the burden of teaching the ever-growing number of our students to the teachers that stay. However, this phenomenon does not only occur from our country to overseas. It is also happening from our rural schools to urban cities. Substandard facilities and even more poor communities make for additional burdens to our teachers who teach in rural areas.
Many of our teachers find it hard to make a career teaching in these communities much less thrive in them. As such, there is little incentive for highly qualified teachers to go and stay in rural schools. Duterte administration must acknowledge the higher level of challenge presented in those areas and provide better incentives to highly qualified teachers. It is not only their duty to provide education to our children in those areas, but also to provide high-quality education that they may be able to develop into good citizens that will help their communities and our country.
HOSPITAL FOR TEACHERS
The Family Code, under Article 218, also extends to teachers substitute and special parental authority. It expressly states that: “the school, its administrators and teachers shall have special parental authority and responsibility for the minor child while under their supervision, instruction or custody. ”
It is also worthy to note that their regular teaching duties are no easy task. Statistics from the Department of Education would bear out that the teacher-student ratio is 1:31 for the elementary level, 1:36 for Junior High School level, and 1:31 for Senior High School level.
As a result, our teachers are exposed to health risks, most common of which are ailments coming from work-related pharyngitis, hypertension, anemia, and hyperacidity, among others. There is, therefore, a need for the State to provide health facilities that specifically cater to the needs of teachers given the vital role they play in educating our children and in the nation’s progress.
SCHOLARSHIP GRANTS TO PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS TO PURSUE GRADUATE STUDIES
Teachers play a crucial role in our society. They are a very critical facet to it as they are one of the people and institutions responsible for the rearing and the training of our youth. They see to it that their students, regardless of their station in life, turn into competent, intelligent and principled individuals.
What the Filipino children learn from their teachers will most likely carry on for the rest of their lives. It is in this way that teachers influence the young generation who in turn are expected to become great leaders and vigilant, responsible and well-informed citizens of this country shortly. Hence, it is but proper that teachers be afforded excellent opportunities to expand their knowledge and better their expertise on subject matters that they teach and impart to their students.
Granting our public school teachers scholarships to pursue graduate studies serve both as a reward, and a tool that benefits not only our hardworking and dedicated educators but also the nation as a whole in that producing well-educated and highly-qualified teachers will necessarily and inevitably result in better learning for the Filipino Youth.
With the fast-paced globalization that is happening, the Philippines need to stay competitive in the world. For this to happen, it is very vital that we produce brilliant and able citizens. As we all know, competency and skills are considerably honed in schools and such training start as early as the elementary level. For our educational institutions to produce great minds and great talents, the teachers and trainers thereof must be top caliber as well, for what they know they will surely impart. And one way to ensure that our educators become and remain excellent in their field is to afford the higher education in the form of graduate programs.
ADDITIONAL INSURANCE BENEFITS
As stated in the 1987 Philippine Constitution, it is the prime duty of the State to prioritize education, science and technology, arts, culture, and sports to foster patriotism and nationalism, accelerate social progress, and promote total human liberation and development.
Teachers are the primary instruments of knowledge. It is a fact that most of the country’s youth education greatly rely on public schools due to heavy financial burdens private schools impose.
However, throughout the decade, the country has experienced a brain drain, especially in the field of leaching. Due to insufficient salaries and lack of benefits, the government provides, in contrast, to the vast amounts other countries offer, hundreds, if not thousands, of our local public school teachers, have opted for greener pastures abroad. This trend stagnated, if not degraded, the country’s educational program. The problem continues to worsen, and if the government continues to cover its eyes and ears, the country’s illiteracy rate will rise.
As a solution to this predicament, it is essential that the Duterte administration take a proactive step by providing these public schools teachers with additional employment benefits. Only through such a solution will the country level the playing field in terms of monetary gains and put a stop to the brain drain phenomenon. The number of teachers that will find employment in public schools satisfactory will inevitably increase teachers and consequently, more children will experience quality education at minimum cost.
- Death benefits to all teachers who are in active service;
- Burial expenses to all teachers who are in active service; and
- Reimbursement of actual medical expenses of all teachers, whether retired or in the active service
REGULATE THE RATE OF INTEREST ON LOANS EXTENDED TO TEACHERS
We have often hailed our teachers as our unsung heroes yet to this day; this recognition remains but an empty accolade.
Our teachers are easy prey to shark loans and in this age of electronic banking, the so-called “payday” or “ATM” loans is now the common practice where the borrowers/debtors pledge and surrender their ATMs to their creditors to secure payment of their loans every pay period until the loan is fully paid. With a family to support and with such meager salaries, teachers have time and again fallen victims to high-interest rates and exorbitant fees, to make both ends meet.
The government should put a cap on the interest rates being charged by private lending institutions as a modest attempt to alleviate the economic plight of our public school teachers.
EXEMPTION FROM WITHHOLDING TAX
It is high time that official recognition and privileges shall be given to the living heroes of our time. The present administration should grant our public school teachers including those in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) exemption from withholding tax on their compensation income. It aims to address the plight of our lowly paid teachers by providing them higher take-home pay to augment their resources to send their children to school and provide for basic and medical emergency needs among others.
Dear Duterte, please improve the plight of the teachers by promoting the benefits afforded to them to encourage the best minds to join the teaching profession.