How about us Mr. President?
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.*