How about us Mr. Pres­i­dent?

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

T

HERE are about 800,000 pub­lic school teach­ers wait­ing in agony for Pres­i­dent Rodrigo Duterte to honor his words. That in­creas­ing their ba­sic monthly salaries.

The Pres­i­dent made prom­ises when he was cam­paign­ing and re­it­er­ated this prom­ise when he as­sumed of­fice in 2016. He promised to dou­ble the ba­sic salaries of pub­lic school teach­ers af­ter ad­just­ing the armed forces and na­tional po­lice’s salaries.

But two years af­ter, he changed his tune and said it is im­pos­si­ble to “dou­ble” the rate of the teach­ers’ pay.

The ba­sic monthly en­try-level salary of pub­lic school teach­ers is P20,754. The pro­posed ba­sic pay un­der Se­nate Bill No.135 is P42,099. This is a jump from salary grade 11 to 19.

Ac­cord­ing to the Al­liance of Con­cerned Teach­ers (ACT), about 75 per­cent of the ac­tive pub­lic school teach­ers have loans with the Gov­ern­ment Ser­vice In­sur­ance Sys­tem (GSIS). Most of the teach­ers are hang­ing on thin bud­gets due to in­creas­ing prices of ba­sic com­modi­ties and ex­tra ex­penses.

The lat­est poverty thresh­old re­leased by the Philip­pine Sta­tis­tics Author­ity (PSA) is P10,481 av­er­age monthly in­come for a fam­ily of five. This is, fig­ure is the needed amount to meet ba­sic food and non-food needs of every fam­ily.

Take note of the word “ba­sic” be­cause it refers to the most es­sen­tial needs only like food, cloth­ing and shel­ter.

Now imag­ine the daily needs of a teacher and his or her fam­ily. A teacher needs ex­tra money to pay for trans­port go­ing to school five or six days a week. Most of­ten than not, a con­sci­en­tious and proac­tive teacher would even spend per­sonal funds for class ac­tiv­i­ties, pro­jects and pro­grams.

Mean­while, fe­male teach­ers spend ex­tra cash for their per­sonal needs to be pre­sentable in class.

Teach­ers also need med­i­cal care, health sup­ple­ments, maybe main­te­nance medicines to sus­tain their en­ergy be­cause of heavy loads in class­rooms. To date, the av­er­age teacher-stu­dent ra­tio in el­e­men­tary is 1:33 while the ra­tio in sec­ondary level is 1:26.

Dur­ing elec­tions, pub­lic school teach­ers are the most ex­ploited gov­ern­ment work­ers. They serve for long hours dur­ing elec­tions, even un­der dan­ger­ous cir­cum­stances and prone to ha­rass­ment. And their al­lowances are usu­ally over de­layed even if the Com­elec re­peat­edly prom­ises to re­lease funds on time.

The ques­tion to Pres­i­dent Duterte is, when? How long do teach­ers need to wait?

The Pres­i­dent and his eco­nomic ad­vis­ers must se­ri­ously take the plight of the pub­lic teach­ers. They are the back­bone of our so­cial and cul­tural foundation­s, next to our fam­i­lies.

Next to par­ents, the teach­ers play an im­por­tant role in mold­ing a child’s growth and de­vel­op­ment.

And a happy and well-cared for teacher is most likely an ef­fec­tive men­tor to every ci­ti­zen in the coun­try.*

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