Hiring of more para-teachers a ‘timely gift’ to Filipino teachers, group says

Published October 5, 2021, 3:08 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

In time for this year’s global celebration of World Teachers’ Day (WTD), a group is pushing for the hiring of more learning support aides (LSAs) to lighten the load of regular teachers amidst the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Photo taken at Calay IP School, Sarangani ub September 2020. (DepEd Region XII)

“This should be a timely gift to Filipino teachers who have been working day and night, whose sacrifices deserve more than just recognition, but also the necessary support and care since schools closed one and a half years ago,” said Aral Pilipinas Lead Convenor Regina Sibal.

Aral Pilipinas, Sibal said, fully supports all Filipino teachers and education practitioners as they continue to contribute to the nation’s healing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year’s World Teachers’ Day theme, ‘Teachers at the heart of education recovery,” is timely as it reminds us to push for effective policy responses,” Sibal added.

Aral Pilipinas, a network of education practitioners, parents, students, and development workers who advocate for the continuity of education in times of crisis, said that a “substantial investment in education is crucial to achieve sustainable economic development and better learning outcomes in times of a global health crisis.”

Thus, it is pushing for an additional budget for the education sector so more LSAs or “para-teachers” will be hired to assist schools and monitor the progress of learners in households struggling with remote learning.

Para-teachers, the group said, can work with learners one-on-one on specific subjects until they begin to develop study skills and knowledge of basic concepts they typically struggle with as part of a classroom or group learning setup.

For the group, para-teachers will be instrumental in reinforcing learning to students who need to be scaffolded or those who require extra attention to help them understand lessons.

Aral Pilipinas said that the proposal would benefit at least one third of the enrolled 28 million Filipino learners from kindergarten to Grade 3 and learners with special needs who shall receive priority assignments for learning support aides.

“The call to recruit para-teachers will cost a measly fraction of the national budget and it shall yield an invaluable investment to our nation’s future,” Sibal explained.

Sibal noted the need to provide para-teachers to schools which continue to operate under remote learning modalities.

Para-teachers, she added, will also “lighten the load of regular teachers” by conducting home visits for remediation and intervention to learners whose parents are unable to guide them with their modules.

By recruiting additional teaching aides to tutor learners at home, Sibal said that this will help boost the local education workforce and improve learning outcomes for SY 2021-2022.

Aral Pilipinas is proposing a 10-month-long employment of 26,000 para-teachers nationwide that would entail an additional P3.1 billion and P130 million for salaries and allowances, respectively.

“This would ensure improvements to ongoing learning continuity efforts as lawmakers finalize the 2022 national budget this month,” the group explained.