By Charissa Luci-Atienza
A partylist lawmaker wants to institutionalize a “Teacher to the Barrios” program for the Department of Education (DepEd) to provide basic education to the students in geographically-isolated communities.
DIWA partylist Rep. Pepito Pico filed House Bill 9037 to deploy competent teachers to remote or far-flung areas who will conduct study sessions and provide formal basic education to all school-aged children in isolated areas.
“Deployment of Teachers to the Barrios will be an effective way to address the problem of accessibility to basic education. It is also a more feasible and cost effective solution to classroom shortage and home to school road problems,” he said.
“Moreover, it provides additional employment to teachers,” he added.
Citing the 2016 Annual Poverty Indicator Survey (APIS), Pico laments that the accessibility of the school remains as one of the reasons for dropping out of school.
“In the geographically-isolated and remote rural communities of the Philippines, mere going to and from school is a challenge, especially to grade school pupils. Aside from lack of money to buy school supplies and books, the physical and geographical location of their community hinder these pupils to go to school, “he said.
“Everyday, there are pupils/students in these areas who need to pass through a hanging bridge made of vines, walk for several hours, cross a river, take a boat ride and/or even climb a mountain in order to reach the nearest school in their locality, ” he said.
He noted that the number of drop-outs may be small in number, but very prevalent especially in far-flung areas all over the country.
Pico said under the bill, the pupils who successfully finish education through the program can be considered elementary graduate and can qualify to enroll in high school or in a technical school.
“This may give the children in the geographically isolated and remote areas a fair chance in opportunity to have a good education and eventually get a good job,” he said.
House Bill 9037 or the proposed Teacher to the Barrios Act tasks the DepEd to maintain a pool of teaching force to be deployed at any time to remote, far flung or geographically isolated areas.
Under the bill, the Teacher to the Barrio shall be entitled to the following benefits aside from the basic salary equivalent to an entry level elementary teacher: representation and transportation allowance, hazard pay; social benefits, including but not limited to Philhealth, GSIS, Pagibig; and opportunity to postgraduate studies, provided that the Teacher to the Barrios has rendered a minimum of five years of service.
The measure provides that the DepEd, in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) shall promulgate the implementing rules and regulations of the proposed Act.