Teachers who wanted to remain in the college would be rehired as contractual employees to teach in senior high school with lower salaries and less benefits.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Renowned poet and literature professor Rebecca Añonuevo has been teaching in Miriam College for the past 19 years. She said before, people working in the education sector, teaching and non-teaching personnel, had security of tenure, which, she added, is guaranteed by the Constitution.
But the implementation of the K to 12 program resulted in the violation of this right. Añonuevo and 20 other General Education (GE) professors would no longer be teaching this coming school year, as the college had ended their tenure.
Añonuevo said the K to 12 program had triggered the retrenchment of professors in tertiary education, specifically in private schools, despite their Masteral and Doctorate degrees and being highly qualified to teach.
After she was retrenched, she filed a case of illegal termination and withholding of wages against the Miriam College administration before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).
Añonuevo has written six collections of poetry and has won several times in the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature and the National Book Award. In 2013, she was one of the awardees of the prestigious Southeast Asian Writers Award.
Retrenched for viability, long-term sustainability
K to 12’s first batch of senior high school students began this school year, which means a sharp drop or even zero enrollment of incoming college students in many universities and colleges.
Añonuevo said the Miriam College administration reasoned that they had to retrench to cut costs for the institution’s “viability and long-term sustainability.”
The professors, as well as students, opposed the administration’s plan. She said the administration has not proven or shown the projected losses of the institution, which was supposedly brought about by the implementation of K to 12 senior high school.
But come June, they received their notice of retrenchment.
They were all dismayed, she said, as they were told during summer to make a syllabus for the incoming school year. What makes it more disappointing, she said, is that two weeks before they received the notice, the administration held a company outing in Balesin Island, an exclusive resort.
“Nakakasama ng loob, (It is very disappointing.)” said Añonuevo during the K to 12 Summit held on June 25.
“They did not explain to us why they had to retrench us, or if there were ways for us to remain in the institution,” she said.
Worse, after the retrenchment of 21 professors, Añonuevo said, the administration has been hiring contractual teachers with lower salaries.
Early separation package
Añonuevo said the administration offered early separation package to teachers who would be retrenched. Some accepted the offer while some, like her, did not. She said the school administration wanted those who would accept the package to sign a quitclaim.
She said teachers who wanted to remain in the college would be rehired as contractual employees to teach in senior high school with lower salaries and less benefits.
She added that some of those retrenched thought of teaching in Department of Education schools, however, the subjects are not aligned to their expertise.
She lamented that the retrenched professors are quality teachers who have studied for many years specializing in their subjects. There are seminars provided by the DepEd, but she said one month of training is not enough, compared to more than four years of post-graduate studies.
Effects of K to 12 is not birth pains
Añonuevo said the effects of the K to 12 program could not be compared to birthing pain. She said a mother experiences labor pains as she is birthing life. The K to 12, she said, is not giving life, but death to employees being deprived of tenure.
“With every teacher being laid-off, there is one family who would be affected,” she said.
Añonuevo, who is married but has no children, shoulders her father’s medical needs.
Añonuevo asserted that security of tenure is a right guaranteed by the Constitution. “We worked hard for this,” she said.
The ACT Teachers Party does not have the exact number of teaching and non-teaching personnel who lost their jobs due to the senior high school implementation. But cases of displacement have been continuously reported to their office since June 13.
Since last year, the group had warned that thousands of teachers would lose their jobs, as, they said, DepEd is not prepared to implement K to 12.