In commemoration of the World Teachers’ Day, more than 300 public school teachers trooped to the Batasang Pambansa Complex this afternoon and called for higher salaries for teachers and rank-and-file government employees.
The World Teachers’ Day was first inaugurated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1994 to commemorate the signing on October 5, 1966 of the Joint UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, a landmark document that sought to establish minimum international standards to promote and protect the teaching profession. The “Recommendation” served as the basis for the enactment of Republic Act 4670, the “Magna Carta for Public School Teachers,” in 1966. World Teachers’ Day is currently celebrated in more than 100 countries. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Teachers matter!”
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) led the protest.
The group registered their opposition to the Joint Resolution No. 24, the so-called Salary Standardization Law 3 (SSL3), which proposes a package of salary increases for all government employees spread out over the next four years. The said resolution was filed by House Speaker Prospero Nograles on Sept. 16 and is currently pending before the House Appropriations Committee.
ACT Chairperson Antonio Tinio said, “The proposed SSL3 will provide a mere P6,000 [$127.31 based on exchange rate of US$1= P47.128] increase over a four-year period—that’s too little of an increase over too long a period of time. Teacher compensation will barely keep up with the inflation rate, much less make real gains in purchasing power.”
Tinio added, “It’s much worse for the lowest-ranking government personnel. A utility worker or clerk will receive a mere P1,800 [$38.19]increase over four years according to the SSL3 scheme. Meanwhile, the highest-ranking government bureaucrats will get increases of up to 100 percent. That’s clearly unjust.”
The group reiterated their support for House Bill 4734 and Senate Bill 2408 that seek to provide public school teachers a P9,000 [$190.96] -salary hike to be given over a three-year period.
Tinio said, “At this point, we’re disappointed with the response of Congress to the series of mass mobilizations held by public school teachers in the past few weeks to demand higher salaries. In commemoration of World Teachers’ Day, we urge our representatives to show that ‘teachers really do matter.’ It’s not too late to revise SSL3 in accordance with the widespread clamor of teachers as well as other government employees.”
Meanwhile, in his privilege speech, Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo urged his colleagues to prioritize the immediate passage of legislation that will pull the teachers’ salaries closer to the prevailing cost of living in the country.
Ocampo said that most of the 479,893 public school teachers in the country belong to Salary Grade 10 with a monthly pay of P12,063 ($255.96).
He said that teachers have to be raised to Salary Grade 20 (P21,537 or $456.98) in view of the rising cost of living.
Ocampo said that as of August 2008, the cost of living for a family of six in Metro Manila was at P911 a day or P20,042 ($425.27) per month. “The ten percent hike for those in the Teacher 1 position (who now receive P12,026 or S255.17 per month) still leaves a living salary gap of P8,016 ($170.09),” he said.
“We continue to lose professionals, our teachers included, to the lure of much better pay in foreign shores. Upgrading their salaries will help in teacher retention rates and attract good candidates for the teaching profession,” Ocampo said. (Bulatlat.com)