Heed  the complaints  of nation’s  teachers

Published April 14, 2019, 12:23 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

E CARTOON Feb 03, 2019Teachers identified with the Teachers  Dignity Coalition (TDC )  made use of the nation’s celebration of Araw  ng  Kagitingan—commemorating the  valor of  the soldiers  who fought for freedom  in Bataan and Corregidor in World War II – to make their own appeal that they be liberated  from  so much clerical work  required  of them  under a program called “Results-based Performance Management  System” (RPMS).

For decades, they said, the Department  of  Education  used  a simplified  Performance  Appraisal  System for  Teachers (PAST). Starting 2012, however, they said,  the  Civil Service  Commission  (CSC) required  the implementation of RPMS, which “requires  the submission of documentation of practically   everything that the teacher does.”

The new rigid system “steals the time of teachers for teaching,” the Coalition said.  It called for a reduction of teachers’ clerical tasks.   “The most important   factor in the teaching and learning process is  the  time  spent  with  the  learners  and  not with documentation, which cannot be used to gauge teachers’ actual performance,” the TDC said.

 Earlier this year,  another  teachers organization,  the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), spoke out against  a program of the Philippine National  Police in which police intelligence officers were said  to be gathering  a list of ACT members in the nation’s schools. The ACT is known to be a militant  organization  pushing not  only for teachers’  interests but also  for  such causes as human rights and land reform.

Malacanang   assured  the  teachers that the PNP was not moving  against  them and the PNP suspended the officers  who had initiated the program. President  Duterte, along with Secretary of Education Leonor Briones  and  then Secretary of Budget and Management  Benjamin  Diokno  met with and invited the teachers to Malacanang.  He  then assured  that they would soon get their salary increases. “Kayo ang  isusunod ko this year.”

This issue of teachers’ salaries  is probably at the root of complaints  they have made  on a variety  of issues. At the beginning of President  Duterte’s  term in June, 2016,  the  nation’s civil servants – most  especially  the teachers and the uniformed services — looked  forward  to pay increases, one of the President’s campaign promises .

By January, 2018,  the nation’s 172,000 military men and 170,000 policemen had their pay doubled. But  Congress had to defer the teachers’ pay increases;  they number 600,000 and over P300 billion would  be needed  to double their pay.

The  teachers  continue to hope for their long-promised  pay  increase. It may not be double like that of the military and policemen but it should  be substantial  enough. And the government  should also be more open to their other complaints, such as that of the Teachers Dignity Coalition  on  the many clerical tasks and documentation  that have been added  to  their basic  task of  teaching the nation’s children.