The Alliance of Concerned Teachers called on President Duterte to urgently address “the serious welfare issues of public school teachers that erode their capacities, health, and morale, and put education continuity in jeopardy.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Public school teachers are working longer hours while lacking support from the government in implementing distance learning for school year 2020-2021, a recent survey by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) showed.
The survey was conducted from March 29 to April 11 with 6,731 public school teachers as respondents. The survey showed that more than 70 percent of the teachers deem the distance learning workload “as negatively impacting on their physical and mental health.”
Ten percent also said that they are “already falling ill due to the problems with distance learning and their burdensome duties.”
With this, ACT called on President Duterte to urgently address “the serious welfare issues of public school teachers that erode their capacities, health, and morale, and put education continuity in jeopardy.”
“Being the backbone of education delivery, the labor situation of public school teachers must be swiftly attended to and be given due consideration in the plans for the opening of the new school year,” the group said.
Extended working hours
The group noted that 41 percent public school teachers in Metro Manila said they are working beyond eight hours per day just to accomplish their assigned duties with. Moreover, 29 percent of teachers outside Metro Manila are working for nine to 16 hours, or even more during weekdays.
Teachers also spend hours of working during weekends. The survey revealed that 41 to 45 percent of the respondents work for up to four hours; 37 to 43 percent for eight hours, and 18 percent work longer than eight hours.
Amid the additional working hours, the group said public school teachers do not receive overtime pay and service credit.
“Public school teachers’ longer working hours operate within the context of the extended school year that deprived them of their rightful proportional vacation pay after serving a maximum of 220 class days in a school year,” ACT said.
The current school year requires teachers to render service for 297 days, from June 1, 2020 to July 10, 2021, without a day of leave benefits.
Some 50 to 67 percent of the respondents also found additional tasks as excessively burdensome. Such tasks are reporting on distance learning implementation and fulfilling the requirements for the teacher evaluation system Results-based Performance Management System, and the Learning Delivery Modality course modules that teachers are required to accomplish.
Expenses from their own pockets
The survey also showed that public school teachers had to spend for their own device to use for the distance learning. The group said 69-77 percent of the respondent are using personally acquired laptops, 24 percent of them are still paying for their devices. Only about four to six percent use DepEd-provided laptops and some four to six percent of the respondents have no laptop to use to perform their duties under distance learning.
“The government had also failed miserably in paying for the supplies and operational expenses of distance learning as teachers shoulder the costs of internet connectivity, cellphone load, supplies for printed modules, and increased electricity consumption as they work from home,” the group said.
According to the survey, about 66 percent of the respondents spend P1,500 ($31) or higher per month for such expenses while 10 to 16% spend as much as more than P3,000 ($62) per month.
While teachers shell out for such expenses, the group decried the dismal implementation of the DepEd order to release a monthly P300 ($6) communication expense reimbursement to teachers from March to December 2020.
About 58 percent of teacher-respondents outside Metro Manila, and 12 percent in the NCR, said that the order is not implemented at all in their schools.
Most teachers who have received partial payments of the reimbursements have only gotten a total of P600 ($12) or lower, while only ten percent in the NCR and one percent in other regions were reimbursed the highest allowable reimbursement amount of up to P3,000 the group said.
Amid the pandemic, 58 percent of respondents from regions outside the capital said that they were made to report physically to schools three or more times every week while about 44% are also compelled to go to their students’ homes to deliver and retrieve printed modules.
Meanwhile in Metro Manila, five percent of teacher-respondents come to school three or more times in a week, while 15 percent are compelled to do community/home visitation.
“Judging from the labor situation of public school teachers, education continuity amid the pandemic apparently hangs by a thread. Without urgent and necessary government interventions, education continuity could suffer as more teachers fall ill due to dire labor conditions, while not a few leave the teaching profession,” the group said.
With this, the group proposed measures to uphold and protect teachers’ rights and welfare, and ensure the delivery of education amid the pandemic. Among those include the following:
- Service credit and 25% overtime pay for the 77 overtime days in the current school year;
- Immediate release of the overly-delayed 2019 Performance-based Bonus (PBB);
- Hazard pay for community-based activities;
- Legislation of salary upgrading for teachers and education support personnel: salary grade 15 for Teacher 1; salary grade 16 for Instructor 1; and P16,000 monthly salary for salary grade 1 employees.