DepEd clueless on teachers salary hike

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

THE Department of Education (DepEd) cannot give any assurance when the second tranche of their salary hike for teachers will be fully released.

“Nakikipag-ugnayan na kami sa Department of Budget and Management (DBM) para makuha natin ang Special Allotment Release Order at Notice of Cash Allocation para magamit muna nila ang kanilang personnel savings para dito,” DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro said Thursday.

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But Luistro admitted that using personnel savings to fund the salary increase is only a “temporary” solution to the problem, citing that the arrangement is for DBM to issue the release order.

“Temporary arrangement lang talaga yan. Ang kailangan natin ay yung SARO mula sa DBM importante na makuha natin ito dahil based on the last report hindi pa natatanggap ang NCA on increase of the teachers’ salary,” he added.

The DepEd chief said he has already directed Undersecretary for Finance Francisco Varela to resolve the issue and coordinate with the DBM and the teachers.

But Varela admitted that he cannot give them an exact date when the amount will be released and credited to their salaries.

“What I can promise is we will coordinate with them (DBM and regional offices) closely. Tuloy tuloy na po ang ugnayan natin sa kanila para maayos na ito,” Valera told the teachers.

Emmalyn Policarpio, Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) spokesperson said many of their colleagues, especially in the provinces are dismayed by the continued delay in the release of the salary increase under the Salary Standardization Law III (SSL-3).

“This took effect on June 24 and should have been included in our July salary but up to now this has not been released to the teachers. Ironically, there are reports that employees in some DepEd regional offices have received their increase," she added.

In 2008, the country’s public school teachers lobbied for the enactment of the salary upgrading for teachers which was favored by the Senate during that time.

However, a compromise version of the bill sponsored by allies of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the Lower House made its way to approval as the SSL-3.

The new law granted an increase in the salaries of all government employees including public school teachers which will be given in four tranches.

“The increases under the SSL-3 were regressive. It will be given in four tranches beginning 2009 and granted little adjustments for the lower positions while giving more additional salaries for those who are already in high income status,” Policarpio added.

The first tranche of increase under the SSL-3 took effect July 1 last year and granted the Teacher 1 position (Salary Grade 11), the lowest in DepEd teachers, an increase of P2, 172 while for the Assistant Secretary level (Salary Grade 29), the increase reached P10, 611.

For the second tranche effective June 24 this year, the increase for the same positions are P1,451 and P10,615 respectively.

Policarpio added that the teachers in the field are wary that the increase will not be released or will be delayed until next month.

“The teachers along with all the rank and file employees of the government comprise a big chunk of the recipients of this increase. We are the ones who are really in need of this amount to augment our monthly living.”

Clash on expanded curriculum

The DepEd and the teachers failed to agree on the additional years to the current basic education cycle at a dialogue held in the DepEd Central Office in Pasig City.

The dialogue was called for by the TDC to air their stand on the proposed 12 years basic education cycle dubbed as the “K-12 Enhanced Basic Education Program”.

Luistro remained adamant on the need to implement the 12-year program but assured the teachers the department would consult with them and all education stakeholders before implementing the proposal.

At the same time, he also assured the teachers that the government would also work to resolve shortages such as in school buildings within a reasonable period.

The DepEd chief impressed on them seriousness of the Aquino government to addressing the problems bedeviling the country’s basic education sector, adding that the President want to resolve this as well as the unemployment level even among high school and college graduates.

“Ang gusto ng Pangulo bigyan ng pondo at necessary support ang kabataan so by the time na they reach 18 years old dapat makakapagtrabaho na sila. Ang kailangan lang talaga magkaisa tayo pagdating sa usapin ng budget,” he said.

The DepEd said only 27 percent of high school students are able to enter college with only 16 percent finishing their courses.

Several education experts including former DepEd Undersecretary Juan Miguel Luz said the program may cost the government some P100 billion spread out over a five year period to fund the infrastructure needed and the salaries of teachers.

But Luistro acknowledged that the proposed 12-year cycle would take some time to implement.

“Hindi naman ako nangangarap ng mabilisan, alam kong ito ay isang struggle,” Luistro admitted.

In an earlier interview, Luistro said the 12-year cycle may not even be implemented within the Aquino presidency but added they are bent on going ahead with the proposal.

The Aquino presidency is set to end in 2016.

An initial draft of the proposal would be released by the DepEd on October 5 to coincide with the World Teachers Day celebration.

But the TDC also insisted on their opposition to the proposed program and reiterated their stand that the government should addressed first the shortages in the basic education sector rather than adding two more years to it.

“Mananatili ang posisyon namin na bagama’t sumusuporta kami sa education reform agenda ni Pangulong Aquino kailangan munang iresolba ang mga basic education problem We will continuously oppose this 12-year education cycle,” said TDC national chairman Benjo Basas.

“Dapat unahin muna ang mga basic necessities. Kung ang dahilan ay para makaagapay tayo sa international standards, eh kailangan din natin na ayusin ang government expenditure, training ng mga guro, kompensasyon at mga educational facilities at equipment,” he added.

The group called on the government to allocate at least four percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to education adding that the present rate of 2.7 percent is a measly sum considering the influx of enrollees every year.

This year, the DepEd was only allocated P172 billion, two billion pesos lower than last year’s P174 billion. Originally, the department requested P190 billion to resolve the gap in classrooms, textbooks and teachers.

Luistro said they would be asking for a P380 billion allocations for 2011.

In a statement, another teachers group also reiterated their opposition to DepEd’s plan saying it is “anti-poor.”

“Parents of poor students cannot afford the costs it will entail and it will prolong their agony how to survive schooling for their children in a situation where their basic income is not enough for their basic needs,” said Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) secretary general France Castro.

At the same time, Castro challenged Luistro to hold more dialogues with all stakeholders on the issue. (AH/Sunnex)

Deped clueless teachers salary hike

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