“Teachers are being given extra teaching loads to absorb the load of the locally-paid teachers who were laid -off. Administrative tasks of teachers such as class advisory, property custodianship, sports coaching and guidance counseling were no longer added in the computation of teachers’ teaching load so as to hide the shortage and the need.” – France Castro, ACT
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA –Teachers under the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) trooped to the office of the Department of Education (DepEd) in Pasig City, Friday, June 20 to protest the massive layoff of locally-paid teachers in different regions due to an unnumbered memorandum on the discontinuance of service of local-government-paid and volunteer teachers. The DepEd issued the said memo last March 20.
The group said they have been receiving reports and complaints since May of locally-paid or local government unit-paid (LGU-paid)teachers being abruptly dismissed from serviceafter the DepEd unnumbered memorandum was issued. “Despite the fact that we still need more teachers, DepEd instead ordered the discontinuance of their service,” said France Castro, ACT secretary general.
Castro said just last month, 77 locally-paid teachers from Muntinlupa City were also abruptly dismissed due to the said memo. The ACT, which has been in the forefront of the struggle for teachers’ rights and welfare, is demanding the reinstatement of the dismissed teachers. Through a series of dialogues, the Muntinlupa division reinstated all dismissed teachers and they were given permanent items.
The ACT has recorded 1,200 teachers who were dismissed in Iloilo, Bicol, Cagayan Valley, Pasig and Caloocan.
Castro said this scheme is being done by the DepEd in their attempt to hide the shortage of teachers in the country. “But they could not simply hide the truth. Teachers are being given extra teaching loads to absorb the load of the locally-paid teachers who were laid -off. Administrative tasks of teachers such as class advisory, property custodianship, sports coaching and guidance counseling were no longer added in the computation of teachers’ teaching load so as to hide the shortage and the need,” Castro said.
Alex Legaspi of ACT-National Capital Region said, “The DepEd is saying that there is an excess of teachers so that they could stop hiring new teachers. But on the ground, the teachers are handling more than two classes and handling 50 or more students in one class because the number of sections were reduced due to the shortage of teachers,” Legaspi said in a short program at the DepEd main office.
Based on reports received by ACT, in Davao City, grade one teachers were asked to handle kinder classes after volunteer kinder teachers were no longer re-hired. The same case happened in Negros Occidental and Caloocan City. In Zamboanga City, a kinder teacher is handling two kinder classes from two different schools. The teacher needs to travel more than four kilometers to shuttle from one class to the other.
According to ACT, the Special Provision 13 in the budget of the DepEd (Republic Act 10633) states that: “priority shall be given to qualified contractual and volunteer teachers, whether employed by the DepEd or the local government units. They should receive permanent teaching items and not termination from service.”
“Clearly, the DepEd violated this again. Aside from violating that provision, the DepEd seems to be very insensitive and unfair for abruptly terminating them from service and thus leaving them off-guard and were not given enough time to look for another job,” said Castro.
“These teachers do not deserve to be terminated. Some of them are teaching without decent pay; some have been in the service for many years,” Legaspi said.
Public school teachers in permanent positions also gave their support to their co-teachers’ plight. “We are flexible and diligent. We hope that the DepEd can see that and be compassionate enough and see our suffering,” said Charito Tamondong, high school teacher at Malabon High School.
According to Legaspi, their group sent three letters to the office of Education Sec. Armin Luistro asking for a dialogue to address the issue and demand the lifting of the unnumbered memo. However, he said, they did not get any response from Sec. Luistro. On the same day, the group once again asked for a dialogue but according to the DepEd communications’ office staff, no one is available to sit in a dialogue with them.
“All the DepEd’s claims in the media are all press releases. On the ground, it is evident that more teachers are needed to teach the increasing number of students in public schools.”