MANILA — Some educators and non-academic personnel on Saturday lamented unimplemented reforms and labor problems hounding the country’s education sector, as the Philippines opens the Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM II) this year.
Dr. Karol Mark Yee, the national commission’s executive director, said they aim to prioritize “chronic malnourishment," lack of daycare centers, and the factors leading to poor learner outcomes under the second congressional education commission.
“The K-12 reform was ambitious in its intention… What we are seeing is despite the increasing number of years in schooling, the learning gap is 5.5 years… Pinatagal lang natin ang length ng pag-aaral pero ang dami ng naaral kulang na kulang pa rin,” the official said, citing a study.
“There should be increased opportunities for people to be able to get training or to upskill or to advance themselves because there are many ways to learn both formal and informal,” he added.
Myra Duldulao, De La Salle Araneta University’s (DLSAU) faculty society president, criticized the poor working conditions that educators have to endure in both the private and public sector.
This, despite a Department of Education (DepEd) memorandum in 2008 stating that they are allowed to teach for only 6 hours daily in the classroom and spend 2 hours on “other stuff other inside or outside the school.”
The guidelines are “not realistic,” Duldulao said.
“With more and more students in our classes and lots of preparation to do, we are drowning in work. That is not even all, we are given other duties like being a class adviser, facilitator, moderator that requires even more preparation and paperwork,” she added.
The educator also decried being “overworked and underpaid.” This leads to stress-related conditions such as anxiety and depression, she said, on top of students asking them for help with their mental health struggles.
“We are at risk too. It is time to talk about how we expect teachers to be resilient at all times just because teaching is considered a calling. This idea is often used to make teachers feel guilty when they ask for better working conditions or pay,” she said.
John Perez IV, president of De La Salle employee association, said it was time to come up with a transformative recommendation for educational reform that includes co-academic or student services personnel or those who assist the education sector.
Perez warned that without the insights of these personnel, EDCOM II’s recommendation will “fall short” on the “crucial… perspective that we co-academic personnel carry… in ensuring quality learning environments.”
“Just and fair working conditions for teachers and co-academic personnel are necessary for an environment that promotes deep learning,” he said.
Yee said the problem of teaching load must also be addressed, admitting that policies in the education sector are sometimes “one size fits all.”
In higher education, he said, the average teaching load of an educator is at 24 units and could sometimes go as high as 30 units, which is considered “a big problem.”
“We are intimately aware of this during the K-12 transition program kasi nakita talaga namin ‘yung huge discrepancies. Some universities allow for research load, some do not,” he said.
“Hindi kasama ‘yung preparation, correction, which is a big chunk that teachers need to do.”
He also noted that there is a need to implement recommended reforms in the education sector such as the following:
- Creation of a National Council for Education (NCE)
- Creation of a National Testing and Evaluation Agency (NTEA)
- Creation of an Education Statistics Office attached to the National Statistics Office
- Creation of a Center for Leading Edge Educational Technologies
Yee said the NCE aims to assess the education system every 5 years and ensure harmonization from education agencies while the NTEA seeks to screen and evaluate the National Achievement Test and other tests for students.
“Nasabi na dati pero walang nangyari. Hindi lamang yun pero maraming issue na ito dapat ang gawin pero hindi nagawa,” he said.
The non-academic personnel’s call for just wages and proper working conditions are also being looked into, said Yee.
EDCOM II was created under Republic Act No. 11899 in a bid to review the country’s state of education at all levels in the next 3 years or from this year until January 2026.
Based on the law, it aims to form measurable targets and “time-bound solutions” through a detailed assessment and evaluation of Philippine education.
President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. earlier this year said the Philippine education system has "failed" Filipino children, as he vowed his administration's commitment to invest and improve the education sector.