35% of college teachers to face job displacement by 2016

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/24 March) — Thirty-five percent of faculty members teaching general education subjects may be displaced upon the roll out of grades 11 and 12 or senior high school (SHS) starting school year 2016-2017,  an official of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) said.

Dr. Sinfroso Birung, director IV of  CHEd’s Office of Program and Standards presented this scenario at the Mindanao-wide Education Tripartite Forum on K to 12” at the Crown Regency Residences here last Friday.

Birung spoke on  the implications of the K to 12 Program on teaching and non-teaching personnel.

The K to 12 program or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 aims to improve basic education by strengthening the curriculum and increasing the number of years for basic education.

The program covers at least one year of kindergarten, six years of elementary education, and six years of secondary education — four years of junior high school (grades 7-10) and two years of SHS.

Under the K to 12 program, Grades 1 and 7 began last school year (2012-2013), while grades 2 and 8 will start this school year (2013-2014).

Grades 3 and 9 will begin in school year 2014-2015; grades 4 and 10 in 2015-2016; grades 5 and 11 in 2016-2017; and, grades 6 and 12 in 2017-2018.

Redundancy of faculty members are likely to happen in private schools because there will be no first year college students enrolled for two years as students undergo SHS, Romeo Montefalco, Jr., officer in charge of the Bureau of Labor and Relations of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Central Office, said in an interview after the forum.

If there are no enrolees, he said, there would be no tuition which is the source of  salaries for teachers.

He said a case of redundancy could happen because while there are teachers, there are no students to teach.

“Pero ayaw nating tingnan na umabot siya sa redundancy. Ayaw nating mangyari na may magkakatanggalan (But, we don’t want to see that it will end up in redundancy. We don’t want displacement of teachers to happen),” Montefalco told reporters.

He said private colleges and universities may likely apply for redundancy if the number of their employees will become “superfluous.”

He pointed out that termination of employees is allowed by the Labor Code under two grounds:  just cause, which is due to an employee’s grave offense, and authorized cause, which is due to redundancy.

He said the DOLE consulted private colleges and universities through the forum to know where to place the affected teachers “without taking them out of the education industry.”

It was the first consultation in the country on the K to 12 program that was conducted by the DOLE, involving private colleges and universities,  the Department of Education (DepEd), CHEd and DOLE officials Mindanao-wide to discuss the transition from the current education system to K to 12, and the ssues and concerns raised by the private colleges and universities.

Montefalco said one of the solutions proposed was to hire the college teachers to teach in SHS, because with the full implementation of K to 12, there will be 85,000 vacancies for teachers in public schools nationwide. In fact, he added, the DepEd currently lacks 47,000
teachers nationwide to be filled in until the end of 2013.

Lawyer Joseph Noel Estrada, executive director of the Coordinating council of Private Educational Associates (COCOPEA), presented in the forum legal issues and labor concerns with the full implementation of the K to 12 program.

COCOPEA is composed of organizations of private educational institutions in the country.

“We are exploring ways on how to temper the financial impact… We need to work together to survive the two years,” Estrada said.
He said they will help ensure that the private colleges and universities will not be closed.

Mart Sambalud, secretary to the principal of the Maryknoll High School of Sto. Tomas in Sto. Tomas town, Davao del Norte, told MindaNews that private colleges and universities may offer SHS to offset the expected reduction in enrolment.

“But, they will be facing lack of teachers because not all affected teachers are qualified to teach general  education for SHS unless they have Master’s Degree or National Certificate II from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority,” he said.

Sambalud said thes private academic institutions will also lack facilities should they offer SHS. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro/MindaNews)