By MARK LAVARRO
STA. CRUZ, Laguna – For a junior high teacher, the setting up of both modular and online distance learning in the face of the so-called new normal has not been easy.
“We work until dawn because I have reports to finish. We have been working hard and as a teacher, we are trying to be responsible to our profession,” Madelle Manonsong said in a Bulatlat interview.
Manonsong is among the 900,000 public school teachers set to receive the P1,000 ($20) incentive on World Teacher’s Day, Oct. 5, in recognition of their vital role in educating Filipino students, especially during the pandemic. This incentive was initially not part of the 2021 budget proposal but was raised and returned as a budget item during the budget deliberations last year.
Otherwise, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said, there would have been no teacher’s day incentive to give this a year – a benefit that public school teachers have been receiving since 2018.
“The P1000 World Teachers’ Day incentive is no thanks to President Duterte,” Castro said, adding that Duterte has no right to take credit for this incentive and use it to “save face from the growing disgust of teachers for continuing to neglect their demand for a substantial salary increase.”
“There would not even be a World Teachers’ Day incentive if not for the loud clamor of public school teachers in last year’s budget deliberations,” she said.
While the teacher’s day incentive is a consolation to the plight of teachers, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers said this should not cover up the delayed substantial salary increase for their ranks.
“For our public school teachers who have long been calling for salary increases and more substantial benefits amid the grueling distance learning, this announcement sounds desperate and pathetic,” ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said.
The group also criticized the DepEd for not compensating the three-month overtime work which teachers have rendered in the last school year, as well as for not having a better plan to ease their internet expenses for distance learning.
The teacher’s organization retaliated that public school teachers did not receive overtime pay, service credit and significant pay increase under the Duterte administration. As the Salary Standardization Law 5 amended, most teachers only received a $30 monthly pay increase.
During the pandemic, ACT Teachers Rep. Castro said they proposed a P5,000 ($100) teaching supplies allowance, P10,000 ($200) internet allowance for the whole school year and P500 ($10) medical check-up for every teacher. Instead, the lawmaker said that teachers were only provided with $100 to cover for their internet expenses and other needs.
“Credit for the P1000 WTD allowance goes to the teachers who made sure their voices are heard and their demands for the education sector to be a higher priority be met. No thanks to the Duterte administration who continues to turn a blind eye on the needs of our education system that is also experiencing a worsening crisis,” Castro said.
Apart from the salary and benefits that they have long been pushing, teachers also reiterated the much needed rest they need before classes resume on Sept. 13 through another year of blended distance learning.
“I am thankful that we will receive the P1,000 incentive. But we hope that our workloads will be eased too and that we are provided with ample time to rest to be able to do our jobs well,” Roxanne Resurrection, a public school teacher of three years, said.
Another teacher, Sherwin San Miguel, said it has been difficult for them to assess students as they cannot see them personally and that they have very limited strategies that they can use to evaluate their outputs and adjust to their learning needs.
“(Both teachers and students) are also distracted as they work from home. Communicating with students who chose to study through modules has also been difficult. If the incentive will be provided, I will be happy,” he added.
As a breadwinner, Manonsong said the incentive is of great help to them. But for now, she said, “to see is to believe.”