Displaced private school teachers, personnel appeal for 'dignified' aid

Private school teachers and personnel on Thursday appealed to Congress for better government aid and wage subsidy in “Bayanihan II.” 

(Photo courtesy of DepEd / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

As the Congress is set to convene in a bicameral session to finalize the provisions of House Bill No. 6953 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One (BARO) act, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers – Private Schools (ACT Private Schools), an organization of teachers and non-teaching personnel in the private education sector, called for better support from the government.

Citing reports, the group noted that from March to May - when the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) was enforced - a total of 409,757 private school teachers and staff have “stopped receiving their regular salaries” under the “no work, no pay” scheme.

The group also noted that 119,819 education workers from 17 regions were also retrenched around the time.

Meanwhile, a survey conducted by ACT Private Schools showed that about 94% of its over 4,000 private school teacher respondents all over the country “were not qualified” for Government support in “Bayanihan I.”

“While it was our relentless clamor for aid that affected the inclusion of retrenched private school teachers in the BARO Act, we reiterate that a one-time cash assistance of 5–8 thousand pesos will not rectify the past 6 months of state neglect, and will not at all suffice to cover our present needs,” ACT Private Schools Secretary-General Jonathan Geronimo said. 

“We deserve more than just crumbs from the government,” he added.

Geronimo then asked the Duterte administration to prove its regard to educators - particularly the “long ignored private education sector nationwide” - by granting a decent amount covering the months of ECQ until this month.

“Private education workers have long suffered from poor working conditions due to low salaries and contractualization, then became the first casualties when the socio-economic crises hit the education sector,” he said.

Geronimo added that if the President and legislators “truly value its educators,” they should provide a dignified aid of at least P10,000 per month from March to August and should provide wage subsidy as well for teachers and staff in small to medium-sized private schools (SMPS) starting September until December to avoid further retrenchments.

As classes set to open on August 24 nationwide, ACT Private Schools also raised four demands including better and more dignified aid; wage subsidy to teachers and staff; zero-interest loans for SMPS to sustain their operations; and an allocation of funds for the health and safety of private school teachers and personnel.