Hire more teachers, not learning support aides, DepEd urged

To ease the blended learning workload of its teaching personnel, a group on Thursday urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to hire teachers with their own teaching load instead of hiring learning support aides (LSAs).

ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines made this call as DepEd prepares to hire LSAs or para-teachers to help teachers in the implementation of the Basic Education - Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) this school year.

“The shift to remote learning, and the lack of ample state support for such, has more than doubled the workload—not to mention the expenses—of already overworked public school teachers,” ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said.

The changes in the educational landscape, Basilio said, will likely result in “further decline of education quality and burnout among our educators.” To prevent this, it is necessary for the government to ease teachers’ workload by hiring more teaching personnel, the group said.

ACT said that DepEd must hire at least 150,000 teachers with their own teaching load and “not teaching aides to enable either the lowering to five teaching loads rather than six or the reduction of class size to 40 instead of 50.”

The group is pushing for the hiring of retrenched private school teachers as priority, then the hiring of college graduates with a degree in education to augment the agency’s teaching workforce. The budget for such, ACT said, should come from the DepEd Central Office’s Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) and not from schools.

“We’ll need an additional 150,000 personnel to take on teaching loads to reduce teaching time to five hours or to redistribute students to classes of only 40,” Basilio said. “This will bring significant relief from the strains caused by the demands of education delivery amid the pandemic,” he added.

According to its own estimate, P45 billion will be needed to complete the 150,000 teaching personnel with a salary similar to that of a Teacher 1. “Since we want these personnel to perform teaching tasks, it’s only fair that they be given salaries similar to what other teachers currently receive,” Basilio said.

Based on the proposed guidelines for the hiring of LSAs issued by DepEd, the compensation for an assistant teacher ranges from P6,000 to P11,000 depending on the region. ACT, however, said that these are “measly” figures.

If displaced teachers from private schools will be prioritized, ACT said that “will also give them a head start in public schools that can be their edge for regularization upon meeting the minimum requirements.”

ACT said that DepEd has yet to fill 34,000 teaching positions and continues to request for 70,000 more. “It will be beneficial to all involved if the additional teaching personnel who will be hired for this school year will be prioritized in the filling up of said items,” the group ended.