With barely a few days to go before classes in public schools open, Senator Win Gatchalian pointed out the need to spare teachers from a congested workload to prevent burnout amid the country’s shift to distance learning.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture warned that bombarding public school teachers with loads of tasks would increase teachers’ stress and anxiety levels, which would hamper the effectiveness and quality of instruction for more than 22 million learners enrolled in public schools.
The workload assigned to teachers and principals is one of the issues raised in a Senate panel hearing on the opening of classes. During the said hearing, Philippine Elementary School Principals Association (PESPA) president Dr. Ferdinand Millan asked the Department of Education (DepEd) to stagger the different activities in preparation for class openings.
“There are lots of programs and projects in the central, regional, and division offices on the part of teachers and principals that cause cognitive overload,” the PESPA president said.
Gatchalian learned that teachers and principals are “multi-tasking” ahead of the October 5 class opening. On top of preparing for the learning materials, including the printed self-learning modules that will be distributed to learners, teachers and principals are also attending webinars and completing courses on different learning modalities.
To address the issue of congested teacher workload, Gatchalian is seeking a Senate inquiry on the implementation of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers (Republic Act No. 4670), which seeks to improve the living and working conditions of public school teachers. The Magna Carta mandates that public school teachers shall not render more than six hours of teaching in a day. Public school teachers are entitled to additional compensation if their teaching load exceeds six hours or if they perform activities outside their normal duties.
Even with these provisions in the Magna Carta, teachers are burdened with non-teaching tasks, even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, Gatchalian noted.
According to a February 2019 policy paper from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), teachers receive additional designations on student guidance, budget, disaster response, and health. Teachers’ participation is also expected in government programs such as mass immunization, deworming, feeding, and election, among others.
“Ang ating mga guro at punong-guro ay maituturing nating mga frontliners sa pagpapatuloy ng edukasyon sa kabila ng banta ng COVID-19. Bahagi ng ating pangangalaga sa kanilang kapakanan ay ang panigurong hindi sila natatabunan ng napakaraming gawain. Kung sa simula pa lang ng klase ay pagod na ang ating mga guro, hindi magiging lubusang mabisa ang pagtuturo kung hindi sila nakatutok nang husto dito,” said Gatchalian.
“We are all witnesses to the many sacrifices of our teachers who have been struggling to adapt to the new normal way of teaching students through various modalities. They never stop in their efforts to reach out to all students to make sure that they will be onboard when classes open on October 5. We are proud of them!” ended Gatchalian.