Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to consider hiring private school teachers who were displaced due to the negative effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gatchalian said this would help speed up the department’s goal of filling up its remaining 34,000 unfilled positions. Instead of hiring additional 10,000 teachers next year, the agency should first fill up its remaining vacant positions and target displaced private school teachers.
“I think it’s better to fill it up first before we hire again so that we can use the savings for other purposes,” said Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.
Under DepEd’s proposed national budget for 2021, P1.2-billion is allocated for the hiring of 10,000 teachers.
But during a Senate budget hearing, DepEd Undersecretary Jesus Mateo reported that 34,000 of more than 55,000 remain vacant. These unfilled positions are teaching positions, majority of which are Teachers I, II, and III.
Gatchalian said hiring additional 10,000 teachers on top of the 34,000 vacant teaching positions would only increase the agency’s unutilized funds.
The senator pointed out that the Special Education (SPED) program could utilize the savings, noting that the P300-million fund allocated supposedly for SPED in 2020 is no longer included in the proposed 2021 national budget. There are approximately 439,000 students under the SPED program.
However, this amount was realigned to fund COVID-19 efforts under the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act or Bayanihan 1.
“I would like to urge the Department to hasten the hiring of those displaced teachers, since there are 34,000 teaching positions available. It will help them continue their work and bring home something to their families,” he said.