The pulse of public school teachers 

Published May 1, 2021, 12:13 AM

by Tonyo Cruz


Tonyo Cruz
Tonyo Cruz

Results of a survey conducted by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers reveal the immense impact of the Duterte administration’s program on online education on the nation’s public school teachers.

With 6,731 public school teachers as respondents, the ACT survey from March 29 to April 11 provide a solid, incontrovertible basis for the nation’s largest teachers’ organization to demand reforms.

First and foremost, the sudden shift to online or blended mode of instruction has left teachers grossly overworked.

  • The eight-hour work rule is widely violated, with about 41 percent of teacher-respondents in the Metro Manila and 29 percent of those outside the National Capital Region working for nine hours to 16 hours and beyond on class days.
  • Teachers spend a sizable portion of their supposed rest days to complete their tasks, with 41 percent to 45 percent working for up to four hours on non-class days, 37 percent to 43 percent for eight hours, and 18 percent for even longer than eight hours.

ACT notes that on top of the shift to the online or blended learning mode which require them to accomplish, check, and grade their students’ modules, public school teachers also have to submit reports to the Department of Education on arbitrarily-set deadlines, and voluminous requirements for the DepEd’s teacher evaluation system.

It is thus no wonder that ACT underscores that “public school teachers’ longer working hours operate within the context of the extended school year that deprived them of their rightful proportional vacation pay after serving a maximum of 220 class days in a school year.”

“The current school year requires teachers to render service for 297 days, from June 1, 2020 to July 10, 2021, without a day of leave benefits,” ACT said.

Meanwhile, our nation’s mentors are deprived of adequate support, even as the administration and the DepEd and require them to implement the herculean tasks of switching to online and blended learning.

According to the ACT survey, only a measly four percent of respondents reported that they received and use DepEd-provided devices like laptops.

69 percent of respondents said they use their personal laptops for teaching purposes. Of this figure, 24 percent are still paying for the devices

Six percent of respondents said that they don’t have any devices at all. Perhaps these teachers are forced to borrow devices from relatives or co-teachers, or even from more fortunate students.

Teachers are also bearing much, if not all, the other hidden, unspoken costs of implementing the regime’s distance learning switch: The costs of internet connectivity, cellphone load, supplies for printed modules, and increased electricity consumption as they work from home.

Through the DepEd, the administration promised a R300 monthly communication expense reimbursement.

But respondents to the ACT survey complain that this tokenistic (and insulting) allowance has in fact not materialized: “About 58 percent of teacher-respondents outside Metro Manila, and 12 percent in the NCR, said that the order is not implemented at all in their schools.”

“Most teachers who have received partial payments of the reimbursements have only gotten a total of R600 or lower, while only 10 percent in the NCR and one percent in other regions were reimbursed the highest allowable reimbursement amount of up to R3,000,” according to ACT.

Another surprising revelation from the ACT survey is this: Public school teachers are being compelled to leave the safety of their homes and to report for work in their schools, especially in the provinces.

“About 58 percent of teacher respondents from regions outside NCR said that they were made to report physically to schools three or more times every week. About 44 percent are also compelled to go to their students’ homes to deliver and retrieve printed modules,” said ACT.

ACT also said that despite the alarming transmission rate in Metro Manila, there are five percent teacher-respondents who go to school three or more times in a week, while 15 percent are compelled to do community/home visitation.

The survey results should guide and compel Congress to come to the aid of teachers, and to grant the mentors’ legitimate demands.

Among these demands are: Due compensation and benefits including service credits; 25 percent overtime pay for 77 overtime days in the current school year; hazard pay; free laptops and devices; R1,500 monthly internet subsidy; reduction of reports and paper work; 80 days of proportional vacation pay; medical fund for free treatment; and a comprehensive mental health support program. And maybe we should add: priority vaccination.

Lest we forget, teachers are not machines. They’re people too.