By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
A teachers’ federation on Tuesday fired back at the Department of Education (DepEd) and stressed that it is the one that should stop “misleading” the public on the pay of public school teachers.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines called out the DepEd for “attempting to delegitimize” public school teachers’ just call for Php30,000 entry-level pay by declaring that a teacher 1 receives Php30,873 monthly. This, the group alleged, is “far from the truth and deliberate twisting of figures” by the education department.
“DepEd arrived at such an illusory figure by adding our salary and all other benefits and allowances teachers receive in a year, then dividing it by 12,” said ACT National Chairperson Joselyn Martinez. “Even their contributions to PhilHealth and the like as employer were included,” she added.
Earlier, DepEd released a breakdown of teachers’ salaries and the “improvement” of these over the years. However, Martinez argued that breakdown released by DepEd, “the allowances utilized directly for the performance of their duty have been included in the crunched up figure released by the agency.” In particular, she cited that the clothing allowance of Php6,000/year meant for teachers’ uniform was included, as well as the Php 3,500/year cash allowance for chalk and other instructional materials.
The group also questioned the Php500/year Annual Medical Examination allowance which DepEd included in its computation. “The fate of this hard-won benefit is still uncertain as the President listed it under conditional implementation in his veto message upon signing the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA),” ACT said.
“One can be forgiven for thinking that DepEd declared such ridiculous figure to dilute the conversation on a salary increase,” said Martinez. “If anything, it more than supports the general belief that DepEd is against a meaningful pay raise for teachers,” she added.
The group also reiterated that they are calling for a substantial hike in the basic pay of public school teachers, so they can afford a “decent living” for their families. “We can’t stress it enough—teachers deserve a chance at a decent living. We are people too who have our own families to support,” she said. “We hope DepEd will finally understand this and stand behind us as we continue to clamor for just compensation,” she stressed.
The ACT has been calling for a Php30,000 salary for Teacher I, Php31,000 for Instructor I, and Php16,000 pay for salary grade 1 government employees in the previous years.
Towards equitable, sustainable pay hike
Meanwhile, DepEd continues to reaffirm its commitment to “work toward an equitable and sustainable salary increase for all teachers” – amid the wide disparity between the basic salaries of teachers in public and private schools in the country.
Citing a study by Dr. Rosario Manasan – using data from the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) Labor Force Survey in 2016 – DepEd said that on the average, public school teachers earn 71% more than private school teachers.
DepEd noted the the “biggest salary gap between public and private school teachers” can be seen in the then Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) at 158%. The same study noted that salaries in public school are “more stable and constant” across regions compared to private schools.
“The significant difference between the pay of public and private school teachers is just one of the many fiscal impacts that needs to be considered and studied in determining the appropriate increase in compensation,” DepEd said.
Notwithstanding, the DepEd added that Education Secretary Leonor Briones remains “committed to uplifting the welfare of teachers and to working toward a pay hike that will help improve the economic condition not just of teachers but of government personnel in other sectors as well.”