- For years, the plight of teachers has always been a topic of public discussion
- But despite the growing public concern and the continuous outcry of our teachers, it seemed that the issue has been well forgotten
- Despite the pay hike our military and police force have received, there has been no answer to the concern of our dear teachers.
It was at the end of a long day and an even longer class, and I was left with an empty folder that used to house my assignment. Seeing that I didn’t have any use for it anymore and I did not want to waste it, so I tried to look for a classmate that would take the folder off my hands.
Surprisingly, a seatmate of mine accepted my offer. We didn’t talk much, but from what I’ve gathered during the introduction, she works for a private school. It was only by chance that I offered her the folder. She was grateful for the offer, saying that the folder wasn’t for her, but for the other teachers that worked with her. “It’s been getting harder to get supplies for them,” she said.
Her revelation left me stunned for a moment. As I replied that it wasn’t a problem, it also made me reflect on the time when I was a teacher for a private school. I’m privileged to have a shorter commute to the school I used to serve, but once I get to work, all the pressure and the long work hours crash into me like I haven’t rested at all.
I’ve been piled for hours of teaching load, and my breaks are consumed by paper works: grading students’ papers, recording attendance, computing grades and everything else in between. In addition to this, I had to get creative providing my materials to teach. Some of my measly salaries went to my teaching aids and materials for school.
And I knew that coupled with the extra challenges, this is what teachers face in this country. And I even consider myself lucky; I worked for a private school. I could only imagine the privation of other teachers’ experience in schools with less funding, or public schools with fewer classrooms and more students.
For years, the plight of teachers has always been a topic of public discussion. But despite the overflowing concern by the teachers, as well as the growing traction for the public, not much result has come out of the issue.
Just last year, over 3000 teachers who were affiliated with the Alliance of Concerned Teachers – Negros went on a mass leave on Oct 5. Instead of joining the festivities for what should have been World Teacher’s Day, they turned to the streets to ventilate their grievances over the hardships of the Filipino teachers who are suffering from the severe conditions of being overworked, underpaid and overtaxed.
ACT Negros President Gualberto Dajao gathered all the members for a protest action which they dubbed as “Day of Mourning.”
Some 2,000 teachers marched from Rizal Elementary School down to the old City Hall grounds and vowed to stage higher forms of protest in the coming days should the government remained deaf on their demands for a salary increase to a minimum of P30, 000 per month.
Currently, entry-level public school teachers (Teacher 1), which have a Salary Grade 11 under Tranche 4 of the Salary Standardization Law, earn a monthly salary of P20,754.
Now for some that would be a hefty salary. But such payment may be unattractive to entice qualified and competent educators to teach in public schools, with their roles covering handling big classes amid poor school facilities, among others.
The ACT said the current teachers’ pay is not enough to cope with the rising prices of goods and services as it falls short of the estimated P23,660 monthly income that a family of 5 needs to get by, per a study of think tank IBON Foundation.
“Sa batas, dapat ang edukasyon ay priority. May pera sa giyera pero wala sa edukasyon? May pera sa bala pero wala sa libro?” lamented ACT national chairperson Joselyn Martinez, who teaches in a public school in Malabon City.
[Under the law, education should be the priority. We have money for war but none for education? We have money for bullets but none for books?]
It should be noted that there was a double salary of police officers and soldiers across all ranks, a pay hike President Rodrigo Duterte enforced amid government’s intensified crackdown on drugs and crime and a boost of security efforts.
Since all of the government’s funding is going to our military power, is it safe to say that education is not our President’s top priority?
President Duterte has vowed on a number of occasions to increase teachers’ salaries but it has yet to see fruition. -ABS CBN/Sunstar
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