By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Groups composed of education and teachers’ rights advocates on Tuesday sought the help of both school owners and the government to provide assistance to educators in private schools who are affected by measures implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
ATING GURO noted that with the further extension to the extended quarantine community (ECQ) in most of Luzon resulting in a work stoppage of almost the entire working population, teachers from private schools are among those who were badly hit by the eventual crisis. “Most of the teachers in private schools are hired thru contracts,” said ATING GURO secretary-general JR Dona.
Dona, who is also a teacher in St. Scholastica’s grade school in Manila, said that teachers in private schools “are among those who are considered as ‘no work, no pay’ workers and they need the help from both the government and their employers to be able to survive this crisis.”
Meanwhile, the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) said the crisis has exposed the evil scheme used in hiring teachers as well as their conditions. “The practice of contractualization is rampant in schools run by private businesses,” TDC national chairperson Teachers do not enjoy security of tenure and the right to self-organization,” Benjo Basas said. “In some cases, even the minimum wage policy is not complied,” he added.
Given this, both groups called on the government, specifically the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), to step in and ensure that teachers who lose their jobs will get assistance from the government and from their employers. “Teachers who are continually hired in private schools for more than a year should not be subjected to the ‘now work, no pay’ scheme for they should be considered as permanent employees and should at least be given assistance by their employers,” Don said in reaction to the reports that even some teachers who have been hired in their schools for several years will not receive pay during the lockdown period. “They were forced by the situation. Clearly, it’s not their fault,” he added.
For ATING GURO, the current situation is “even worse” for those whose contracts have ended by the supposed end of the school last March. “Teachers are now displaced and may not find jobs until the next school year opens by August or September or even beyond,” he explained.
Earlier, the DepEd says it considers school opening by the end of August. Meanwhile, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Infectious and Emerging Diseases (IATF) recommended opening of classes by September. The UP Resilient Institute, on the other hand, also proposed that the schools should remain closed until December this year.
Meanwhile, ATING GURO and TDC also asserted that private school teachers “should automatically be included” in the government’s assistance programs like the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) and the DOLE’s COVID-19 Adjustment Measure Program (CAMP). The groups said that they will lobby for this in the IATF.