Uphold the welfare of teachers. This should be a priority of the next administration as the country continues to grapple with the education crisis according to re-electionist Senator Win Gatchalian.
The senator pressed the importance of boosting the morale of teachers, citing their role as frontliners for learning continuity amid the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing recovery efforts. Gatchalian also noted that even before the pandemic struck the country, public school teachers were already overworked and their meager pay is not commensurate with their additional responsibilities and workload.
According to a 2019 study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), public school teachers are burdened with several additional administrative or student support roles, a situation which can affect the quality of teaching. For instance, they participate in the implementation of various programs such as mass immunizations, deworming, feeding, and elections, among others.
Gatchalian added that higher salaries for public school teachers are already overdue. His proposal is to raise the salary of Teacher I from Salary Grade 11 (P25,439) to Salary Grade 13 (P29,798) or Salary Grade 14 (P32,321). The lawmaker noted that in terms of entry-level salaries, Filipino teachers are already left behind by their peers in other ASEAN countries like Indonesia (P66,099) and Singapore (P60,419).
“Sa pagtugon natin sa krisis sa sektor ng edukasyon, mahalagang itaguyod natin ang kapakanan ng mga guro at tiyakin nating mataas ang kanilang morale, lalo na’t malaking bahagi sila sa pagkatuto ng mga kabataan. Kaya naman dapat maging prayoridad ng susunod na administrasyon ang pangangalaga sa ating mga guro,” said Gatchalian.
Should he win a second term in the Senate, Gatchalian vowed to seek amendments to the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers (Republic Act No. 4670) and make it more responsive to present challenges.
One provision of the Magna Carta provides that every public school teacher shall not render more than six hours of actual classroom teaching a day. Teachers are entitled to additional compensation for activities outside of their normal duties or in excess of six hours a day of teaching load. The Magna Carta also provides that public school teachers are entitled to free and compulsory medical examination before taking up teaching.
Gatchalian emphasized that the government was not able to guarantee these benefits, even as COVID-19 threatened the health and safety of teachers.