“With these reports coming directly from our affected faculty, we have seen that K to 12 is an assault on job security, the right to decent salary and benefits, and other rights of labor.”
Sidebar story: Awarded Filipino poet loses teaching job due to K to 12
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — The impact of the senior high school phase of the K to 12 program has greatly affected the education sector – from the apparent lack of facilities for senior high school students, to mass termination of teachers and non-teaching personnel.
ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio said his group has been receiving reports, from public and private colleges, of mass termination and displacement, diminution of salaries and benefits, and widespread contractualization of teachers and other school employees.
Literary professor Rebecca Anonuevo was one of the 21 professors who were retrenched from Miriam College last June 13.
This is contrary to the claim of the Aquino government’s Education Secretary Armin Luistro that this was the best “best school opening ever,” Tinio said.
Tinio said K to 12 has even brought the practice of “endo” into schools. “Endo” – or end of contract — has become the popular term for the practice by employers in factories or malls of hiring workers for fixed short term periods, usually five months. These employees are also being deprived of their benefits.
In a press conference on Monday, June 27, professors from different universities share a common condition with the start of senior high school.
“With these reports coming directly from our affected faculty, we have seen that K to 12 is an assault on job security, the right to decent salary and benefits, and other rights of labor. This is ironic because while Pres. Rodrigo Duterte vowed to put an end to contractualization, it is now becoming widespread in the education sector,” said Tinio.
Mass termination and diminution of salaries
Professor Rene Tadle of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) and lead convener of the Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities in the Philippines (Cotescup) said that in their university, part-time and fixed-term professors were laid-off allegedly due to “end of contract.”
Tadle said the administration has terminated the contracts to avoid making them regular employees, and minimize expense on labor costs. College professors have a three-year probationary period before they become regular employees. Tadle said once the school prolongs the services of probationary professors, they will have to become regular employees and receive benefits.
“To cut costs, the administration ended their contracts,” said Tadle.
Tinio also said teachers of Central Escolar University Integrated School were made to sign one-page contracts stating that they will only be hired for three years, as contractual and non-tenured. He said their contracts can be terminated at the end of the three years, or earlier if the teacher is rated lower than “very satisfactory.”
There was no mass lay-off at the Mapua Institute of Technology, said faculty president Professor Nestor Asuncion. However, professors had less teaching loads because there are no incoming first year college students. This has resulted to lower salaries, he said. He is a General Education professor and most of his subjects are being taught during the first and second years in college.
Asuncion said Mapua offered senior high school, and professors who have few teaching loads can teach in the senior high school, but with a lower salary.
Asuncion said the senior high school implementation in Mapua professors will also have an impact on the cooperative that he also heads. He said the disbursed loans prior to the senior high school implementation may not get paid because professors now have lower income.
Asuncion lamented that they also have bills to pay like house rent. Although he is single, he has some scholars who he sends to school.
“I could not tell the owner of the house where I am staying that I would just pay the rent after two years when the enrollment has stabilized,” Asuncion lamented.
Asuncion also said that the process of applying for government assistance for employees retrenched due to the senior high school implementation is too bureaucratic and difficult. (Will link separate story about it here)
Hold Aquino administration accountable for failed promises
Tinio said the administration of President Aquino should also be held accountable for failed promises of the K to 12 program, such as the hiring of professors in public schools. He said Education Secretary Luistro once said in a congressional hearing that they will hire professors who will be displaced and will give them salaries equivalent to what they were earning. But these did not happen.
Tinio said that faculty and teachers will even get drastically reduced pay. He said dismissed professors who were hired in DepEd schools were hired as Teacher I, a position with a corresponding salary of P19,000 ($400) a month.
“Some of them were previously earning monthly salaries of around P40,000 ($850), and/or have masteral or doctoral degrees with long years of service. This is contrary to what Secretary Luistro promised during public congressional hearings—that these displaced teachers will be hired as Master Teachers (with minimum pay of P33,500 or $710),” said Tinio.
Tinio said that his group and the affected faculty will be seeking dialogues with the incoming secretaries of education, labor, and higher education in the coming days.
Lawyer Severo Brillantes, counsel for the Manila Science High School petitioners said the K to 12 program is a major catastrophe that would have been prevented if only the Supreme Court has decided favorably for the seven petitions filed against K to 12 by different groups. But the high court has denied the petitions.
He said the long-term solution for quality education is for the government to invest in the education sector, not to add two years.
“Put funds to build schools and increase teachers’ salaries and not fund private schools to implement the (senior high school) program,” said Brillantes, adding that Filipinos are already world-class even with the 10 years of basic education.
Tadle also cited the Asian Development Bank’s sector assessment on education in the Philippines which says, “A multitude of public (mostly provincial) and private technical vocation education and training (TVET) colleges have opened, offering an array of programs that are often of very low quality and mismatched with labor market skill needs.”
“The problem of quality does not lie in the years of basic education alone but the low quality of courses,” Tadle said.
Brillantes also said that incoming Education Secretary Leonor Briones should hear them out first before deciding to continue the K to 12 program.
“She said that she will have a consultative leadership but she already released a statement favoring K to 12 without even holding a consultation with us petitioners. We hope that she hears our basis in opposing K to 12,” Brillantes said.