Twin bills from Camarines Sur solons will make public school teachers smile

Four Camarines Sur-based congressmen are batting for the increase in salaries of public school teachers, as well as a permanent allowance for their teaching supplies.

A teacher giving lessons to students online (Ali Vicoy/ File photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

“Despite their heavy workload and essential role as agents of constructive intellectual, social, cultural, political and moral change in our society, our public school teachers are among the most underpaid workers in the country,” said Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte, who led the solons in filing the related measures.

Villafuerte and three fellow Camarines Sur representatives authored House Bill (HB) No. 1851, which mandates a significant increase in the salary grade level of public elementary and high school teachers from Grade 11 to Grade 19 amid the nonstop rise in the cost of living.

Meanwhile, in HB No.1849, the Bicolanos expressed their desire to make permanent the P5,000 school supplies allowance that public school teachers have been entitled to during the Covid-19 pandemic. They said this would lessen the teachers' burden in coughing up their personal money to deliver education services during the hybrid learning system of face-to-face and remote or online teaching.

This bill further provides for a continuous increase in the annual allowance for teaching supplies over the succeeding school years.

“Increasing their takehome pay and providing for a permanent teaching supplies allowance with a provision for a steady bump per schoolyear will hopefully incentivize them to strive for excellence in their field and make teaching a more attractive profession for our students," said Villafuerte, president of the National Unity Party (NUP).

According to the proponents of these twin measures, the low salary rates of around 800,000 public school teachers have “caused disincentivization to improve their skills and pursue further education and training".

"This situation also makes the teaching profession unattractive to the youth, especially to the cream of the crop graduates from top colleges and universities in the country. Moreover, labor groups and teacher associations have been lobbying for years to increase teachers’ compensation by upgrading their salary grade," they said.

They said their two bills aim to attract more students to the education profession, and incentivize teachers to further equip their skills set to strive for excellence in their field that would eventually improve the quality of the public education system.

Villafuerte's three co-authors are Camarines Sur Reps. Miguel Luis Villafuerte (5th district) and Tsuyoshi Anthony Horibata (1st district), and Bicol Saro Party-list Rep. Nicolas Enciso VIII.