DUMAGUETE CITY May 18, 2018 – Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones addressed issues and concerns on the education sector in a press conference held on May 5, 2018 at DepEd Central Visayas regional sub-office.
Gearing up for opening of classes
The Education chief shared that the Department is already gearing up for the opening of classes through the Oplan Balik Eskwela (OBE) which shall run from May 21 to June 8.
“Our physical facilities are not appropriate for summer classes,” Briones opined, emphasizing the condition of classrooms during the months of April and May when the country experiences the hottest conditions.
Meanwhile, Brigada Eskwela, which shall prepare the schools’ physical facilities for the opening of classes, shall run from May 28 to June 2 as stipulated in DepEd Order No. 66, s. 2018 with the theme “Pagkakaisa Para sa Handa, Ligtas at Matatag na Paaralan Tungo sa Magandang Kinabukasan.” The national kick-off shall be hosted by General Santos City in Region XII.
The Secretary also announced that 7,000 new teaching items are to be filled-out this school year to help reduce class size and decongest the classrooms.
Fortnight salary mode, teachers’ financial standing
The teachers present also brought up the possibility of changing the compensation mode of personnel from once a month to every 15th and 30th of each month.
Briones imparted a positive response, stating that the request is worth considering since salary mode is a contributory factor to the teachers’ propensity to avail of loans.
Likewise, the Secretary reiterated the importance of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) entered into by and between the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and DepEd on April 16 which shall allow eligible DepEd borrowers’ existing loans with private lending institutions (PLIs) to be refinanced by the GSIS at a lower nominal interest rate of 6% per annum and a longer loan term of up to six years.
“This will help hundreds and thousands of our teachers and personnel free themselves from the burden of loans and over-borrowing,” Briones mentioned. “Sixteen to 17 thousand teachers who have retired in the year 2016 cannot receive their retirement pay because of this dilemma.”
Local polls, other programs
Briones also announced that more than 90% of the Department’s teaching force have signed up to serve in the May 14 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Elections. Although voluntary, teachers shall receive honoraria for their service ranging from P3,000 to P7,000.
The Secretary has already called on the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to increase the pay of its workforce, an appeal which is still being considered given the limited resources of the Commission.
Briones further discussed the various initiatives of the Department including the DepEd Computerization Program (DCP) and the strengthened linkages with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to help ensure the safety of schools with computer laboratories.
Briones announced that 18 billion pesos shall be spent for the program, and shared the color coding mechanism for the computer units to be distributed – light blue for Junior High School and dark blue for SHS.
“Maybe soon, we can already pilot the giving out of tablets to school children so that they will not be carrying bulky bags anymore. The challenge now is the security aspect because these children are not allowed to bring the tablets home,” she disclosed.
DepEd Region VII Director Juliet Jeruta enjoined the heads of the officials present to immediately cascade all information to the field.
Also present during the press conference were Assistant Director Salustiano Jimenez, regional officials and personnel, and the Schools Division Superintendents, Assistant Schools Division Superintendents, school heads, and teachers of Negros Oriental.
Source: DepEd Philippines With reports from Rolyn Jane P. Catanus, Schools Division of Negros Oriental