By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Deputy Speaker and Pangasinan Rep. Rose Marie “Baby” Arenas wants to increase the annual teaching supplies allowance of public school teachers from the current P3,500 to P10,000.
She laments that the cash allowance the Department of Education (DepEd) provides to teachers just amounts to P16 per day.
“This is relatively insufficient in assisting classroom teachers to deliver informative learning sessions and stimulating class discussions to the country’s 22.1 million public school students, ” Arenas pointed out.
Under House Bill No. 4494, the House leader cites the need to institutionalize the grant of a teaching supplies allowance for some 840,000 public school teachers and increase the cash allowance by 185 percent from the current P3,500 to P10,000 per teacher per school year.
“The salaries of our public school teachers are unquestionably not commensurate with the volume of work and enormous responsibilities entrusted to them. Aside from spending for their personal and family needs, teachers also have to draw from their own pocket to purchase various materials they use in teaching. This out of the pocket expenses is on top of the current P3,500 annual teaching supplies allowance they receive from Fiscal Year 2019 DepEd budget, ” Arenas said.
House Bill No. 4494 seeks to grant P10,000 teaching supplies allowance for the purchase of chalks, erasers, board pens, flip charts/board, and other classroom supplies and materials.
It provides that the grant of cash allowance shall be limited to teachers who are engaged in actual classroom teaching and workshops in public basic education.
“In order to avoid deficit, this bill proposes to initially source the additional funds from the savings of the national government and thereafter, it shall be included in the General Appropriations Act under the DepEd budget, ” Arenas said.
The bill provides that in the first year of the effectivity of the proposed Act, the P3,500 per teacher per school year, shall be charged against the current appropriation of the DepEd for the teaching supplies allowance, while the additional P6,500 per teacher per school year, shall be charged against any available funds and/or savings of the DepEd.
“Thereafter, the amount of P10,000 per teacher per school year, shall be included in the DepEd budget for the teaching supplies allowance under the General Appropriations Act (GAA),” the bill said.
It provides that the teaching supplies allowance shall be exempt from tax on income.
Under the bill, the Secretary of DepEd is mandated to conduct periodic review of the teaching supplies allowance with the full participation of most representative– public sector union, federation or confederation, taking into account the current prices of classroom supplies.
If warranted, the DepEd Secretary may recommend the necessary increase in the amount of allowance to be included in the GAA, it said.
“With this teaching supplies allowance, the burden on public school teachers will be alleviated and their working conditions improved,” Arenas said.
The chalk allowance of teachers was initially pegged at P1,000, but was raised to P1,500 in 2015. After two years, it was increased to P2,500 and P3,500 in 2018.