DepEd urged to allocate funds for medical benefits, equipment of public school teachers

The Department of Education (DepEd) should allocate more funds in its proposed 2021 national budget to cover the medical benefits and equipment required of public school teachers in the new modes of learning.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Senator Risa Hontiveros said many teachers have expressed concerns over the inequitable response of the government to their basic needs, and have sought greater support for them as the education sector pushes through with the opening of classes this October 5 under a new normal.

Hontiveros underscored the necessity of institutionalizing the implementation of RA 4670, the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, as a response to the unequal government support provided to teachers.

“Dapat siguraduhin nating naaalagaan ang mga guro natin. Mahaba pa ang laban natin sa COVID-19, kaya dapat may sapat na pondo para tuloy-tuloy ang edukasyon ng mga bata,(We need to care for our teachers’ wellbeing. We have a long way to go in our fight against COVID-19, that’s why we need sufficient funds to ensure the continuity of education of our children),” Hontiveros said.

“The Magna Carta for Public School Teachers is meant to give our teachers protection like medical benefits and hazard pay,” she said.

The senator also appealed for a more institutional approach to ensure that there is funding earmarked for the implementation of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers.

“Umaaray ang ating mga guro. Kulang na kulang ang suporta lalo na yung mga naka-assign sa mga pinakamahihirap na munisipyo na walang kakayahan ang LGU at mga pribadong indibwal na sagutin ang kanilang pangangailangan (Our teachers are having a hard time. They lack support, especially those who are assigned to the poorest municipalities where the local government units (LGUs) and private individuals do not have the capability to respond to their needs),” she added.

Citing DepEd's data, Hontiveros said more than half of the basic education students or at least 13 million students preferred the modular learning modality.

But this means public school teachers will face an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 since they are required to distribute and retrieve self learning modules (SLMs) from the communities themselves.

That is why, she said, it is imperative that the government subsidizes these printing of materials and help teachers acquire their own laptops and other equipment and materials necessary for them to adjust to distance teaching.

She said an Internet “allowance” is now one of the most crucial ingredients to a successful education under the new normal.

“For our teachers to properly adapt, they would need proper access to all necessary technology,” she said.

“Ibigay natin sa mga guro ang suportang kailangan nila lalo't itinataya nila ang buhay para siguraduhing may maayos na edukasyon ang mga anak natin (Let’s give our teachers the support they need especially since they are risking their lives to ensure our children will have access to quality education),” she added.