While welcoming the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) which the DepEd and GSIS have entered into in Malacanang yesterday, the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) says the government should think of a long-term solution to the financial problems haunting our public school teachers.
“This MOA could help the teachers ease the burden of paying their loans in a better term, however it could not free them from the bondage of debt.” Said TDC national chairperson Benjo Basas.
The GSIS Financial Assistance Loan to DepEd Personnel (GFAL) will be offered to teachers who have existing loans with Private Lending Institutons (PLIs). Th GSIS will refinance the loans at a lower interest rate of 6% per year and a longer term of up to six years. According to Secretary Leonor Briones, “the partnership is one way for DepEd to help hundreds of thousands of its teachers and personnel free themselves from the burden of loans and over-borrowing.”.
Basas however said that the issue of teachers’ loans and ‘over-borrowing’ should not be treated as a domestic problem but rather something that the government should look deeper as this has something to do with the teachers’ socio-economic status which could greatly affect their quality of work. This Basas said, “Could not be solved by the proposed financial management trainings.”
“We recognize the need for financial literacy program and, as we have earlier stated, we are willing to cooperate with the DepEd for this objective. However, how could one manage finances if he has none?” Basas added. “DepEd should be at the forefront of our advocacy to improve the benefit and compensation system for teachers, specifically the increase in our salaries.”
Basas also called on the leadership of GSIS and DepEd for an immediate dialogue to tackle the details of the MOA signed yesterday.
“We are willing to sit in a dialogue with Secretary Briones and GSIS PGM Jesus Clint Aranas, as the consultations and dialogues with the teachers are necessary before the implementation of any policy. We want to discuss this issue and come up with the solutions most acceptable to all parties.” Basas ended. #
The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) proposes the following :
- Reduce the number of the Private Lending Institutions accredited by the DepEd;
- Investigate individuals and institutions(both private and DepEd personnel) engaged in several onerous schemes of lending (sanla ATM, 5-6 etc);
- Allow the legitimate cooperatives, even the small ones operating in schools to be accredited in DepEd’s automatic payroll deduction system (APDS) to help both the cooperatives and the teachers
- Initiate widest consultation possible with the national, regional and local teachers’ organizations and unions;
- DepEd should use its authority and power to propose loan restructuring with other PLIs
- Condonation/restructuring of loans both from GSIS and PLIs
- Support for the enactment of P10, 000 across-the-board salary increase for teachers
- Appropriate funds to implement welfare provisions of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers and provide for overtime pay, free health services, study leave with pay, cost of living allowances, higher salary grade, among other benefits.
- Institute financial literacy program coupled with improved system of benefits and compensation