The truth be­hind salary in­crease of teach­ers

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Opinion - BY LORENZO E. MEN­DOZA

THE Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Di­vi­sion of the Pub­lic Af­fairs Ser­vice of the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion had is­sued the of­fi­cial state­ment of Sec. Leonor Bri­ones re­gard­ing the talks on salary in­crease of teach­ers dis­pelling the idea floated by some that the Sec­re­tary do not ap­prove of it. I am pub­lish­ing the said state­ment in toto:

It is not true that I am against the salary in­crease of our pub­lic school teach­ers.

As Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary, and as an ad­vo­cate, I am com­mit­ted to the pol­icy to pro­mote and im­prove the so­cial and eco­nomic sta­tus of pub­lic school teach­ers, their liv­ing and work­ing con­di­tions, and their terms of em­ploy­ment. I am in full sup­port of the Pres­i­dent’s pro­nounce­ment to raise the salaries of teach­ers.

I have been work­ing with the eco­nomic team in the Cabi­net to find ways and means to re­al­ize a salary in­crease for DepEd’s close to 830,000 teach­ers. Last year, when this was taken up in the Cabi­net, the de­ci­sion was to al­low the fourth and last tranche of the SSL this year, and for DBM to come up with a study on how to ef­fect the next salary in­crease. The next salary in­crease is presently un­der dis­cus­sion.

What has been mis­un­der­stood, and mis­rep­re­sented to be a po­si­tion against a salary in­crease, was my dis­cus­sion of the con­sid­er­a­tions that need to be taken into ac­count in mak­ing the de­ci­sion.

First, we need to care­fully as­sess the fis­cal im­pact of the salary in­crease. A PhP5,000.00 across the board in­crease will re­quire an ad­di­tional P75 bil­lion an­nu­ally. Rais­ing such amount will have to con­sider cor­re­spond­ing poli­cies in taxes, bor­row­ing,

or bud­get re­al­lo­ca­tion.

Sec­ond, I em­pha­size that we can­not think of the teach­ers alone. There is an eq­uity is­sue in re­la­tion to other govern­ment per­son­nel that we need to ad­dress.

I have also called at­ten­tion to the fact that the salaries of teach­ers have im­proved over time (see Tables 1 to 3). We also add to the ba­sic salaries the ben­e­fits of teach­ers, some of which are ex­clu­sive to them (see Ta­ble 4). The salaries of pub­lic school teach­ers have al­ready over­taken the salaries of those in pri­vate school, re­sult­ing in the mi­gra­tion of pri­vate school teach­ers to the pub­lic schools (see Ta­ble 5).

I call at­ten­tion to these not to ar­gue against salary in­crease, but as a cor­rec­tion to the pub­lic no­tion that pub­lic school teach­ers are still the most piti­ful and low­est paid pro­fes­sion. There have been se­ri­ous ef­forts to up­lift teach­ers’ con­di­tions that the pub­lic should also be made aware of.

I am fully aware that dis­cussing these con­sid­er­a­tions makes me a tar­get of cer­tain vi­cious or­ga­nized groups among the ranks of teach­ers. They call me names, twist my state­ments, and am­plify neg­a­tives to over­shadow what­ever re­forms and gains we make in ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion.

None­the­less, I also go around the coun­try to visit schools, and I see that most teach­ers ap­pre­ci­ate the ef­forts that we do for and with them. Yes, there are lim­i­ta­tions, yet these do not stop us from shar­ing mu­sic, dance, laugh­ter, and the joy and pride of teach­ing.

The next salary in­crease of pub­lic school teach­ers will come. As Sec­re­tary of Ed­u­ca­tion and mem­ber of the cabi­net, it is my duty to help make sure that such salary in­crease is equitable, within the govern­ment’s means, and sus­tain­able.

This Cor­ner hopes that with this pro­nounce­ment, the pub­lic will be able to dis­cern the truth from just a pro­pa­ganda and should first lis­ten care­fully to what the peo­ple are say­ing to avoid mis­un­der­stand­ing and hasty gen­er­al­iza­tion.

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