Groups renew push for salary increase on National Teachers' Day

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 05 2022 01:14 PM | Updated as of Oct 05 2022 01:23 PM

Teachers gather donated books as the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) launched Tulong Guro donation drive and relief operations to assist teachers and learners in Sta. Lucia High School in Quezon City on Sept. 27, 2022. ACT, together with donors, distributed ‘baon packs’, school supplies, hygiene kits, and used books for the school to use in the aftermath of super typhoon Karding. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File
Teachers gather donated books as the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) launched Tulong Guro donation drive and relief operations to assist teachers and learners in Sta. Lucia High School in Quezon City on Sept. 27, 2022. ACT, together with donors, distributed ‘baon packs’, school supplies, hygiene kits, and used books for the school to use in the aftermath of super typhoon Karding. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — Several groups renewed Wednesday their calls for the government to raise the salaries of education workers and uphold academic freedom as the country marked National Teachers' Day.

Instead of issuing statements that praise teachers, the government can show how much it values the profession by increasing the wages of education workers, said Teachers' Dignity Coalition Chairperson Benjo Basas.

"Lagi naming naririnig na teaching is the noblest of all profession, the most important job, pero kapag tinitingnan natin ang policies ng gobyerno, makikita natin na itong suweldo ng teachers ay kasama sa pinakamababa sa government professionals," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

(We always hear that teaching is the noblest of all professions, the most important job, but when we look at the government's policies, we'll see that teachers are among the lowest-paid government professionals.)

Basas said discounts, freebies and the P1,000 incentive given annually to public school teachers for National Teachers' Day are insufficient.

"Hindi sapat 'yan. Ang mahalaga dito ay 'yong totoong pagkilala ng estado doon sa kahalagahan ng mga teacher at magma-manifest 'yan sa pamamagitan ng policies, lalong-lalo na ng polisiya sa pagbibigay ng suweldo na makatarungan," he said.

(That's not enough. What's important is for the state to truly recognize the value of teachers, which can be manifested through policies, especially the policy of giving them just compensation.)

Entry-level teachers currently earn around P25,000 per month under Salary Grade (SG) 11.

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In a separate interview, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Chairperson Vladimer Quetua lamented how teachers' salaries are further reduced because of automatic deductions, debts and expenses on distance learning materials.

In a separate statement, ACT appealed to the government to raise the basic pay of public school teachers to SG 15 and college instructors to SG 16. It also called for a P30,000 minimum salary for private school teachers.

The group also demanded to reduce teachers' workload, implement a 4-hour per day teaching time, and provide every teacher with a laptop, P1,500 monthly internet allowance and annual P10,000 cash allowance.

RED-TAGGING 

Meanwhile, the Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND), a group of progressive faculty from the University of the Philippines, called on the government to defend academic freedom as it raised concerns on the "red-tagging" of teachers in higher education.

"Teachers - especially in higher education - are being red-tagged and forced out of employment for upholding critical thinking in the classroom," CONTEND said in a statement that also called for the upgrading of teachers' salaries.

"In addition, books and other information sources labeled as 'subversive' are continually purged out of libraries, publishing platforms, and syllabi," it said.

"Just what kind of students would we have under the tutelage of teachers who are overworked, underpaid, and red-tagged?" the group asked.

Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte earlier told a House of Representatives committee that she could not further raise the salaries of public school teachers as it might spur "migration" from private schools.

On Wednesday, Duterte joined First Lady Liza Marcos in leading the National Teachers' Day celebration at a sports complex in Abra province.

Duterte also visited Bangued North Elementary School in Abra, where she distributed school and dental health supplies to students and parents.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., meanwhile, said National Teachers' Day was a "good opportunity to express our sincerest appreciation for their (teachers) invaluable service to the nation as we safely reopen our schools and bring forth a new era of learning amidst the post-pandemic world."

"I trust that, with the help of our teachers, our country will grow stronger with every Filipino becoming more capable of building a better future for all," he said in a statement. 

— With a report from Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News