World Teachers’ Day 2010

October 5, 2010

Today, we join the international community in celebrating World Teachers’ Day by giving honor to our Filipino Teachers.
For this year’s celebration, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization and Education International came up with the theme: Recovery begins with teachers, placing teachers in the lead to recovery from various global crises.
Many of our people’s woes are primarily the effects of our societal problems—such as the financial crisis that has affected the economies of many nations, and the various humanitarian crises caused by man-made and natural disasters. Here in our country, the devastation of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng a year ago is still unforgotten; as we continue rebuilding lives and livelihoods, and heal the people’s trauma, as they saw the fruits of their hard labor being washed away.
In the midst of these difficulties, we seek out a guide, our candle in the dark. It is in the four corners of a classroom that a child, who survived a destructive typhoon, is given hope—the hope that with education, with the patience and loving guidance of a mentor, he will be able to leave behind the dark images of a disaster and start dreaming and working for a better life.
Leading the way to a country’s recovery—that is the gargantuan task given to our teachers. But how are they to fulfill this task when they themselves are experiencing their own crisis? The long-standing disregard for teacher’s welfare and lack of concrete steps to address their long-standing concerns and growing needs for: just compensation; increase in non-wage benefits; and continuous training and/or re-training.
Despite the enormity of their tasks, the hard reality is that our Filipino teachers are heavily underpaid, compared to their counterparts in neighboring countries, and, even amongst our own public servants.
An entry-level teacher in Singapore would be hired at the rate of P122,400 (SGD$2,600); in Japan, P77,889 (JY156,500); in Malaysia , P17,806 (RM1,300). A Filipino teacher of the same qualifications and skills would have to content herself with a starting salary of P14,000.
We have about 500,000 public school teachers who seek higher remuneration. They demand that from the current Salary Grade 11 they be elevated to Salary Grade 15 and be provided with non-wage benefits, most importantly, medical benefits.
Another great burden for our teachers is the issue regarding their supposed benefits from the Government Service Insurance System. Their concerns include: the unexplained deductions in the maturity claims or retirement lump sum of members; unexplained deductions in their salary loans; non-payment of dividends to members; non-deduction of loan payments; deductions of loan payments even if the loan has been paid earlier; non-payment of funeral benefits, education plans, among others.
We have received information that as of July 2010, GSIS has been unable to post Php6 billion payments made by members to their individual accounts. This means that even if a member is able to pay premiums and other loans, as far as the records of the GSIS is concerned, they remain unpaid.
This is a concern that must be addressed by the government immediately. The GSIS is the institution tasked to promote the efficiency and welfare of government employees. But with the current set-up, it has even become the source of their problems.
Most teachers are also eager to undergo further training and studies, which they would have undertaken using their own resources if only they had enough funds. Unfortunately, our poor teachers have limited resources, barely enough to sustain their own and their family’s needs.
Part of the Department of Education’s thrust and strategies is the training of teachers and education managers. For the year 2011, DepEd submitted a proposed budget of Php207.271 billion, of which only Php862 million would be allotted for human resources training and development, including scholarship and fellowship grants to teachers. This amount is not enough to fund a long-term plan for the upgrading of teachers’ skills, especially those who must undergo specialization, and for the training of principals’ management skills. Without the proper and updated training, the efficiency of their teaching will suffer. We cannot give what we do not have; and so, teachers cannot impart something they do not know.
Our mentors also long to be recognized for the role that they perform in our society. Aside from guiding us through our academic growth, we call them our surrogate parents as they shape our values and teach us discipline. They are also the most reliable and dedicated of public servants; they who risk life and limb if only to efficiently accomplish their task of providing us academic tools and skills that would give us a brighter future.
Here in the Senate, we have taken steps to address the concerns of our teachers. During the last Congress, we saw the passage of Joint Resolution No. 4, which increased the compensation of government employees, including public school teachers.
As legislators, we can do more to provide better compensation packages, benefits and privileges for our teachers.
Let us reaffirm our support for our teachers and other non-teaching personnel in the education sector in their continuous quest for proper recognition that goes beyond lip service.
I urge this august chamber to pursue the passage of proposed laws that seek to promote the welfare of our teachers, among which are the following measures which this humble representation authored:
• Senate Bill 1397, the Philippine Teachers’ Hospital Act
• Senate Bill 10, the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers
• Senate Bill 1429, Regionalizing the Department of Education Payroll System
• Senate Resolution No. 3, the Uniformed Personnel in the Military Service, and the Police Establishment, Teachers and Nurses.
Furthermore, to give due recognition to the service of our teachers, this representation will file a Resolution that would push for the declaration of a National Teachers Day.
Thank you, Mr. President.