Public teachers struggle, despite raise

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Monday, June 3, 2013


CEBU CITY -- Two days before the start of classes, Marites Oybenis busied herself with alphabets.

The 37-year-old Grade 1 teacher spent her Saturday hanging alphabets above her blackboard.

Like many of the objects inside her classroom, she bought the alphabets with her own money. Their salaries are hardly enough to meet their families’ needs, but teachers sometimes have to use their own resources to acquire classroom materials.

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Oybenis, who teaches at the Mandaue City Central School, said she procured her own table and a cabinet, and shouldered part of the cost of a wall fan.

Public school teachers at the entry level get around P22,000 in basic pay and allowances. Teachers are also entitled to a provident fund.

Finances

Teachers in public schools now get more than those in private schools, which are trying to catch up, said Dr. Carmelita Dulangon, Department of Education (DepEd)-Central Visayas director.

But she added, “Our teachers should learn financial management, to balance what they earn and what they spend.”

Director Dulangon said there are still cases of teachers who pawn their automated teller machine (AMT) cards or sell different goods to pay off their debts.

“Sometimes they take loans from different banks and from financing companies at the same time and end up failing to pay the amount due,” said Dulangon.

“If this happens, they pawn their ATMs,” she added.

Since a fourth tranche of a pay increase for teachers was released in June last year, the rates are now P20,000 and an allowance of P2,000 for Teacher 1, said Dr. Dulangon.

“A Teacher 2 would receive P21,000 and allowance, while a Master Teacher gets P31,000 and allowance,” she said.

The allowances include P2,000 for clothing each year and a chalk allowance of P1,000 a year. Public school teachers are also entitled to a mid-year bonus, a yearend bonus and, every 10 years, a loyalty bonus of P5,000 and P2,500 every five years after that.

Family

There is also a step-up increment every three years. If a teacher is promoted or fills up a vacancy, there is also an increase in pay. A productivity bonus, based on work performance evaluation, is given out in March each year.

“There is also subsidy from the local government units, which is given monthly. The amount depends on the capacity of the local government,” said Dulangon.

A teacher could avail of a loan of up to P100,000 with an average of six percent interest from a DepEd provident fund.

In the case of Oybenis, her salary is way above the minimum wage, but with two children going to school and an extended family to support, she sometimes has to take out a loan.

“Kaya ra man, pero maputos lagi ta sa utang (We can get by, but we are buried in debt),” she said.

Oybenis has been teaching in a public school for seven years. Although her salary has gone up over the past few years, the cost of living has also kept rising, she said.

Housing

Her husband drives a jeepney for a living, but even with their combined income, paying for the household expenses is still a challenge.

Oybenis said her husband spends for their daily expenses, while she pays for their bills and house improvements.

They live in their own house in Barangay Paknaan but they do not own the land. Oybenis said she wants to avail herself of socialized housing programs for teachers, but she has yet to hear of one in Mandaue.

Their children are still in the first and second grade, but the couple has started to worry about their college education.

Oybenis said they need to acquire properties for their children’s education. She hopes proposals to increase the wage of teachers will succeed.

Even with the meager salary, Oybenis said she enjoys being a teacher.

Though she deals with six-year-old children, she is able to adjust to her pupils.

Focus

Interviewed separately, Director Dulangon reminded principals not to let their teachers sell consumer goods in class.

“I will let the superintendents look into this (selling in school). The teacher should focus on teaching,” she said.

But Association of Concerned Teachers (ACT) member Antonia Lim said the salary, allowances and other benefits given to public school teachers are not enough.

“Dako man ang among deduction sa GSIS ug tax. Ang increase namo kaonon sa tax (A large part of our pay goes to deductions for the Government Service Insurance System and taxes. Taxes eat up any increase we may get),” she said.

She said the gap between what “ordinary” teachers and supervisors make is too large.

“The ordinary teacher gets P17,000, while the master teacher gets P35,000 and up. A supervisor makes around P50,000. Dako kaayo og gintang sa sweldo (The gap is too much),” she added. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 03, 2013.

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