By MARK LAVARRO
STA. CRUZ, Laguna — Filipino teachers are not likely to have their much-needed rest as the Department of Education pushes for the annual school maintenance program less than a month after the classes ended.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said their colleagues have not had the chance to breathe since classes ended as they organized graduation, submit students’ final grades, performance evaluation, among other tons of paperwork, and yet the education department has already tasked them to start soliciting for the Brigada Eskwela program, an annual school maintenance program.
“That is no longer humane. Let the teachers rest,” ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said.
In a survey conducted by ACT earlier this year, at least 41 percent of public school teachers in Metro Manila said they are working beyond eight hours a day to accomplish their work. The survey also revealed that 29 percent of public school teachers outside Metro Manila are working for nine to 16 hours.
Filipino public school teachers have also been robbed of their weekends with nearly half of them saying that they work between four to eight hours as well.
Apart from this, teachers have long said that they have no basic provision for alcohol, face masks, and other personal protective equipment they need, especially during module distribution.
In a memorandum dated Aug. 2, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the Brigada Eskwela program will be implemented from Aug. 3 to Sept. 30, “with focus on collaboration and strengthening partnership engagements” that will complement their efforts on delivering quality basic education amid the pandemic.
Given the already dire working conditions of Filipino public school teachers, they are also now expected to solicit from parents and the private sector the needs for the upcoming school year such as reams of paper, ink, health supplies, and the likes through the Brigada Eskwela program.
ACT, however, said the national government has the primary responsibility to provide quality education. However, these responsibilities are being passed on to teachers, parents, private stakeholders, and even the local government units.
Basillio said, “in this time of pandemic, the national government should increase support for essential services.”
ACT lamented that despite the long hours of work, teachers are not justly compensated.
The group said public school teachers did not receive overtime pay and service credit, even when their recent survey revealed that 70 percent of their colleagues deemed that the workload brought by distance learning has negative impacts on their physical and mental health, while 10 percent admitted they fell ill due to the problems it brought them.
Basilio also pointed out that teachers did not receive a significant pay increase under the Duterte administration. Per the Salary Standardization Law 5, most teachers only received a $30 monthly pay increase. (JJE, RVO)