Teachers Demand for Decent Salary, Gear Up for ‘People’s SONA’


The plight of Filipino teachers has been at its worst since Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed the presidency in 2001, according to the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT). Amid the recent surges in the prices of petroleum products and consequently of transport and basic commodities, it is but just to demand for a salary increase, said the group.

BY JEFFREY OCAMPO
Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 25, july 27-August 2, 2008

As Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is set to deliver her State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 28, teachers in public elementary and high schools expressed dissatisfaction over her performance. Apparently, they are a part of the significant percentage of Filipinos, which according to the most recent survey of Pulse Asia, has become cynical of what Arroyo will have to say in her SONA.

Last July 23, a ten-percent increase in salary was given to public schools teachers. Starting this month, teachers categorized in the Teacher 1 position – constituting the majority – would be receiving a monthly salary of P11,933 ($269.79 at an exchange rate of $1=P44.23). A similar rate of increase was implemented last year after a six-year moratorium in pay hikes.

Their salary, however, even with the increases, falls short of the living wage. According to National Wages and Productivity Commission, the daily cost of living is P871 ($19.69) per day or P19,162 ($433.23) per month for a family of six.

Teachers comprise one-third of the 1.5 million government employees. They suffer from stress because of overloading, worsening working conditions and low salary, says ACT. Their disconcerting plight contributes largely to the deterioration of the state of Philippine education.

Grievances

A teacher at the Commonwealth Elementary School who prefers not to be named shared, “Teaching school children is tough enough but the distressing working condition and issues are too much too handle.”

The Department of Education (DepED) issued Memorandum No. 291 last June 13 instructing public school teachers “to fully utilize the six hour actual classroom teaching time.” This means that a teacher must spend six hours facilitating classes. This, however, according to ACT, prevents them from doing other things their job requires like writing lesson plans and preparing instructional materials.
According to the same memorandum, teachers are not exempted from the eight-hour working time. Thus, the remaining two hours should be spent for activities “within or outside school premises to comply with the eight-hour workday.” But based on the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, teachers are to spend “not more than six hours” for actual classroom teaching, says ACT.

Another issue confronting teachers is overloading that is an “inevitable consequence of the shortage of teachers.” Those with additional load should be given 25 percent of their monthly salary. But, according to ACT, the additional pay is not at all given. Aside from overloading, a teacher has to handle 60 to 70 students in a class while the international standard of class size is only 25.

The provisions of the Salary Standardization Law is also not being implemented thoroughly in public schools. As prescribed by the law, a P300-increase ($6.78) should be given to teachers after every 3 years of their service. This, says ACT, is not even enough. Worse, reports show that teachers have to apply and present to Department of Education (DepEd) their qualifications before they can get the supposed automatic salary increase.

They are also having problems with the Government Security and Insurance System’s (GSIS) service record, which has not been updated. There are reported cases wherein the salaries of teachers who have fully paid for their loans still reflect deductions for loan payments. Even retired teachers are not spared from the GSIS’s “flawed system.” In 2006, a retired teacher suffered a heart attack at the GSIS office in Lucena City upon learning that she would not be getting her pension because her E-Card had not been activated. She died afterwards.

Salary Increase

Among professionals, teachers receive the lowest monthly salary. Teachers are now “among the ranks of the poor”, relates Antonio Tinio, ACT chairperson.

Thus, ACT’s effort towards alleviating teachers from their dire state centers on the demand for a P9,000 ($203.48) salary increase. This means that their monthly salary should amount to P19,579 ($442.66), an amount “necessary to preserve the dignity of the teaching profession and bring it closer to the rising cost of living.” The current salary of teachers “barely keeps them above the poverty line,” adds Tinio. The demand aims to upgrade teachers from Salary Grade 10 to Salary Grade 20 of the Salary
Standardization Law.

Their campaign for a higher salary has gained support.

Last July 11, Senate Bill No. 2408 entitled “An Act Providing Additional Support and Compensation for Educators in Basic Education” was submitted to the Senate and was approved by Allan Peter Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero, Mar Roxas and other senators. According to the bill’s declaration of policy, the government shall “promote the welfare and economic well-being of public school teachers, locally-funded teachers and non-teaching personnel” who are its primary beneficiaries. Section 4 of the bill says that “an amount of P9,000 per month shall be granted” to the beneficiaries and “shall be paid in three equal tranches” (P3,000 every year for three years). Also, the teachers shall receive financial support, medical allowance and Magna Carta bonus. So far, SB 2408 has passed second reading in the Senate.

A similar bill was filed in the Lower House. House Bill 4734, which is entitled “The Public School Teachers’ Additional Compensation Act”, is being pushed by Gabriela Women’s Party representative, Luzviminda Ilagan who herself was a school teacher.

ACT has held mass actions in different areas like Muntinlupa, Quezon City and Manila to gain more support from their fellow teachers for their call for a salary increase.

Teachers to Join the ‘People’s SONA’

Teachers are also set to join the ‘People’s SONA’ along with the other sectors of society on July 28. “We also oppose the implementation of the oil deregulation law, R-VAT [Reformed Value-Added Tax] and other anti-Filipino government policies that worsen the lives of ordinary citizens and add to the misery of public school teachers. We are one with the majority of the Filipino people who vows to oust Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo from her position,” says Tinio.

ACT members from different elementary and secondary schools in Metro Manila will be gathering in front of Diliman Preparatory School before marching to Batasang Pambansa on July 28. Bulatlat

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3 Responses to “Teachers Demand for Decent Salary, Gear Up for ‘People’s SONA’”

  1. kenshi johiro Says:

    What a sad fate the Filipino TEACHERS have in this country, be it in the elementary and high school levels… We hope that Senate Bill No. 2408 and House Bil 4734 be enacted immediately…

  2. Merlie Lebosada Says:

    If Filipino teachers be given decent salary, competitive teachers would refrain from leaving the country. We plead for the enacment of Senate Bill No. 2408 and House Bill 4734.

  3. Chi-chi Says:

    I’m glad that Secretary Lapus is doing his job… I just hope that the Bill will be enacted… I really feel for our teachers… They deserve salary increase…

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