Let’s take care of our teach­ers

The Philippine Star - - OPINION - TONY F. KATIGBAK

I’m glad that Pres­i­dent Duterte has over­ruled his Bud­get Sec­re­tary Ben­jamin Dio­kno who wanted to once again give pri­or­ity to the gov­ern­ment’s fo­cus on “Build, Build, Build” in­fra­struc­ture projects – some­thing that has been on­go­ing since the start of the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion and some­thing which, quite frankly, is a tree from which we have yet to see fruit. Still, the bud­get sec­re­tary re­mains keen on pour­ing more of the na­tional bud­get here than into other projects that are in des­per­ate need of fund­ing.

With this fo­cus in mind, he has claimed that the coun­try’s pub­lic school teach­ers’ in­crease can wait while the ad­min­is­tra­tion uses the bud­get for very ex­pen­sive pub­lic works projects. I’ve said it be­fore but it bears re­peat­ing that Dio­kno and I are sit­ting on op­po­site sides of the fence on this one. In all hon­esty, it has been a few years now and can we re­ally say we have seen the dif­fer­ence that “Build, Build, Build” has been promis­ing? Has it im­proved the coun­try in big tan­gi­ble ways? Why are we so fo­cused on pour­ing more money into a project that is mov­ing at a snail’s pace?

In the mean­time, the hard­work­ing and un­der­paid school teach­ers are strug­gling to make ends meet while do­ing their best to pro­vide a good ed­u­ca­tion to our chil­dren. I have al­ways said that our teach­ers are our most valu­able re­source. Knowl­edge is power and the only way to truly in­vest in real and last­ing change for the coun­try is in­vest­ing in the youth and en­sur­ing that they have a good ed­u­ca­tion. This gives them the strong foun­da­tion they will need as they grow older. In the end, isn’t in­vest­ing in our chil­dren the best way of in­vest­ing in the fu­ture?

And we have all seen the ded­i­ca­tion our teach­ers have to their jobs de­spite not be­ing com­pen­sated prop­erly. There are so many sto­ries in the news about teach­ers brav­ing the el­e­ments to get to their schools, or teach­ers walk­ing miles and miles ev­ery sin­gle day, or even teach­ers find­ing ways to teach their sub­ject mat­ter with­out any of the ma­te­ri­als needed. This hap­pens all over the world and not just in the Philip­pines. Who can for­get the com­puter teacher who did his best to teach his stu­dents about com­puter pro­gram­ming with­out a com­puter and had to make do by draw­ing the en­tire in­ter­face on the black­board? Hon­estly their ef­forts are noth­ing short of heroic these days against quite for­mi­da­ble odds.

For­tu­nately, Pres­i­dent Duterte feels the same way. In­spired by his mother – who was a teacher – the pres­i­dent has promised that 2019 will be the year that he fi­nally im­ple­ments the wage hike for pub­lic school teach­ers. In his re­cent visit to Bu­la­can, the pres­i­dent pledged to raise teach­ers’ salaries fol­low­ing the re­cent pay hike granted to sol­diers. He told them that it was fi­nally their time to get what they de­served and en­sured them that once the na­tional bud­get was signed into law he would find a way to make the pay raise hap­pen.

I hope the pres­i­dent is true to his word this time. Teach­ers in the Philip­pines are way over­due for some ad­di­tional com­pen­sa­tion and recog­ni­tion. Much like our sol­diers who pro­tect us, teach­ers safe­guard our chil­dren. And in 2019 – which is an elec­tion year – they are also the vol­un­teers who help dur­ing the elec­tions, of­ten even in great peril to their own lives. It’s high time we rec­og­nize their in­valu­able con­tri­bu­tions and ad­just their salaries ac­cord­ingly.

The gov­ern­ment just has to look at the coun­try like one big busi­ness. In any cor­po­ra­tion there are dif­fer­ent jobs, which con­trib­ute to the suc­cess of the over­all busi­ness. Each depart­ment and each worker must be rec­og­nized in their own way and given just com­pen­sa­tion. They may not need recog­ni­tion all at the same time, but each should be given their due. It is time to give teach­ers their due too.

* * * We greeted 2019 with a bad breach in in­for­ma­tion last week when the Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs an­nounced that an ag­grieved con­trac­tor made off with all the pub­lic’s per­sonal in­for­ma­tion fol­low­ing the DFA’s ter­mi­na­tion of their con­tract. There are so many po­ten­tial se­cu­rity risks as­so­ci­ated with this news and it’s quite fright­en­ing to think of what the con­trac­tors could do with that much in­for­ma­tion.

What’s even more con­cern­ing is that there are no “back-ups” for the data and the DFA is now ask­ing for those re­new­ing their pass­ports to bring new copies of their PSA birth cer­tifi­cates to help the data­bank re­build­ing process. First of all, se­cu­rity threat is­sues aside, the loss of the in­for­ma­tion is not the peo­ple’s fault and yet we will be the ones bur­dened by re­quir­ing yet an­other step (with ad­di­tional pay­ment) when it comes to pass­port re­newal. All of this, plus the fact that a large and dan­ger­ous amount of per­sonal data is just out there and can be used for who knows what?

It’s a pow­der keg to be sure and an­other ex­am­ple of things the gov­ern­ment needs to be more care­ful about. It is nat­u­ral to use con­trac­tors and sup­pli­ers in all branches of gov­ern­ment and busi­ness, but bet­ter se­cu­rity safe­guards and back­ups need to be in place and op­er­a­tional to pre­vent se­cu­rity breaches like this one from hap­pen­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.