DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A teachers’ union urged the government anew to address the teachers’ grievances and problems in this time of the pandemic as the country observes National Teachers’ Month this September.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) made this call during the group’s online kick-off commemorating National Teachers Month which takes place from September 5 to October 5.
“We continue to launch various actions to push the fight of the teachers for humane condition, living wage, and their dignity as teachers and citizens. We continue to fight to push the government to address its responsibility to teachers, the youth, and the Filipino people,” ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said.
The ACT’s program contrasts to the Department of Education’s National Teachers’ Month kick-off program held on September 7, in which Education Secretary Leonor Briones took pride that the benefits for teachers have been increasing.
According to Briones, the government has an estimated expenditure of more than 395 billion pesos annually for the benefits of teachers. She added that teachers will still receive salaries and benefits despite the call for distance learning.
“This is really a day of celebration, a day to celebrate the continued nobility, the continued devotion, the continued love that our teachers still hold for our learners and for our country,” Briones said.
But for ACT, holding Teachers’ Month is more than just giving tokens to teachers. Basilio said that what they need is for government to properly respond to the needs and problems they are experiencing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, especially that the country will push through with the school opening next month.
“As the classes will open on October 5 [in time of the culmination of the National Teachers’ Month] the Duterte government must ensure the safety of the teachers, school personnel, parents, and the Filipino youth from the threat of COVID-19,” Basilio added.
The group expected from the government, especially the Department of Education (DepEd) that before the opening of classes, it had already placed a “systematic and comprehensive health protocols, proper work arrangement, and for thousands of displaced teachers in affected private schools to receive aid and new work.”
ACT reiterated their call to the Duterte administration to implement a substantial salary increase for public school teachers as it has approved the significant increase of salary for military and police personnel.
As the Congress started deliberating for the 2021 national budget, the group is also calling for bigger funding for safe, accessible, and quality education”, stressing that “the public education system has long been plagued by perennial shortages, drastically aggravated by the shift to remote learning in light of the health situation.”
ACT’s celebration was filled with solidarity messages from leaders from ACT, Education International, teachers’ unions in other countries, students and political personalities. (davaotoday.com)