Teachers’ wishes: Regularization, salary hike, higher budget

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/6 Oct) – More than “Thank you” cards from students, teachers here, during celebration of World Teachers’ Day Friday, have wished for regularization, salary upgrade, and higher education budget.

Elenito Escalante, chairperson of the local chapter of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), said at least 20,000 teachers nationwide have contractual status; at least 300 of them are kindergarten teachers in this city.

“Kindergarten teachers here only receive P3,000 a month each. And they buy their teaching materials from their own pockets,” he said.

Escalante said the government should resolve shortage of teachers, as well as that of classrooms, teaching facilities, books and other instructional materials.

He added that ideally, there should only be 25 students in every classroom. But in the city, most kindergarten classrooms have 50 students each.

Susana B. Estigoy, regional director of the Department of Education, earlier said that Education Secretary Armin A. Luistro initially planned for 61,000 items open for teachers for 2013. But she added that teachers under local school boards, supported by local government units with a monthly honorarium of P5,000, cannot all be absorbed.

She said every teacher has to undergo proper screenings for acquiring a regular position.

Salary upgrade

ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio, in a press release Thursday, said upgrading teachers’ salaries is probably the best “thank you” gift President Benigno Simeon Aquino III can give to the teachers.

Tinio is urging Aquino to fast-track the approval of House Bill 2142 or the Public School Teachers’ Salary Upgrading Act and similar bills long pending in the two chambers of Congress.

Filed in 2010, HB 2142 proposes to increase teachers’ minimum salaries from Salary Grade (SG) 11 (P18,549 a month) to SG 15 at P24,887 a month, or an increase of P6,338.

Tinio said the bill has at least 180 coauthors and some representatives and senators have filed their own versions of proposed salary increases for public school teachers.

“The only stumbling blocks to its passage into law are the budget department and the President,” he said.

“Proof of this hindrance is his refusal to line up the issue as among his legislative priorities and his failure to set aside funds for salary increases for teachers and other state workers in his proposed 2013 budget,” added Tinio

Escalante said the ACT is also demanding for salary upgrade of university and college instructors who are in the lowest position, Instructor 1.

He said at present, Instructor 1 has SG 12, which is around P20,000, so it has to be increased to SG 15 as well.

Higher budget

Escalante stressed that the government should prioritize education in the national budget, noting that the United Nations mandated that six percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) has to be allotted for education.

He said currently, education budget barely reaches two percent of the Philippine’s GDP.

Estigoy mentioned that the proposed education budget for 2013 is P293.2 billion and 80 percent of this will go to the salaries of teaching and non-teaching personnel.

The proposed education budget for 2013 will increase by 23 percent from P238.8 billion this year, she added.

Teachers’ union

Escalante acknowledged the initiative of the Civil Service Commission and the Department of Labor and Employment for allowing teachers to create their union per region, saying it is a positive move from the government.

“It’s good that through this teachers’ union, the government has recognized the teachers as workers of the academe,” he told MindaNews.

He cited that teachers in the National Capital Region had just established their union in September.

He hoped that teachers in the Davao region will be able to create their union within this year.

“Being considered as modern heroes as we mold young minds who will become leaders in the future, we wanted to be treated humanely by providing us appropriate salaries and benefits,” Escalante said. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro / MindaNews)