PUBLIC school teachers around Eastern Visayas have thrown their support behind fellow teacher, Maricel Herrera, who exposed the dismal condition in Bacoor National High School in Cavite but was instead met with threats from the school principal and "contemptuous remark" from the Education secretary.
Herrera is the president of the faculty club of Bacoor National High School.
“As a faculty president in my school, I support teacher Maricel. Her plight is an example of repression of her right as a teacher and as a human being to express and to expose the truth,” said Ronald Cabigon of the New Ormoc City National High School in Ormoc.
“She must have known the repercussions of her expose via social media beforehand but she chose to stand up for truth by exposing it for the welfare of her colleagues not only as a faculty president but also as a teacher who wants real change,” Cabigon told Sunstar Philippines.
In her Facebook account, Herrera posted several photos showing how their comfort room was converted into a faculty room due to the shortage of facilities in their school.
The school principal, however, threatened to sue her for uploading the photos on Facebook.
Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones, for her part, criticized the option made by the faculty, saying “they could hold office in the laboratory rooms but of course, it is more dramatic, it is more touching if you hold it in the toilets.”
But a group of progressive teachers in Eastern Visayas condemned Briones's statement, saying "we don’t need to appear more dramatic to you and to the media, because we teachers know that even if we do so, it will not get much of your attention because of your lack of empathy on the welfare and rights of teachers."
“Instead, the teachers have exposed those anomalies for you to get out from your air-conditioned room and inspect personally the situations of teachers not only in Bacoor but the whole nation as well if and only if you will spare a little of your time to do it,” said ACT Eastern Visayas in a statement.
It maintained that the use of comfort rooms as faculty rooms have also been experienced by teachers in some parts of the country.
“Moreover, it is not only the issue of using CRs as faculty rooms, but the overall ill-condition of teachers in their respective workplace. The lack of classrooms and other facilities of teaching are the long agony of teachers all over the country,” it added, as the group expressed solidarity to the plight of the Bacoor teachers.
In Eastern Visayas alone, the group noted that teachers experienced teaching under the tree because of no budget allocation for construction of classrooms.
“Teachers even need to walk three kilometers or need to travel via banca just to get to their station. These are extra mile we are taking in order to fulfill our duties and responsibilities as a teacher and citizen of this country,” said ACT Eastern Visayas while expressing its disappointment over the treatment of Briones on the issue.
In Tacloban City, which bore the brunt of the devastation after 2013 Super Typhoon Yolanda, teachers and community officials voluntarily helped each other to sustain the makeshift or temporary classrooms made of tarpaulins and light materials in the relocation sites for the schooling of the children five years after the storm.
Marissa German, another teacher, hoped the Education secretary “will go to a public school not as a VIP but as a teacher.”
“Let her teach for even just a day so she will 'feel' the love and sacrifices of teachers,” said German, who has been teaching for six years in public school after 14 years of teaching in private.
“She alone, no personal assistants. Let her stay inside a crowded classroom, let her exert effort so her voice will be heard by 50-60 students/pupils... See the learners in flesh in a government school with lacking chairs or with chairs but no armrest; let her feel the hot temperature...Let her walk to different assigned classrooms,” said German, who took her disappointment to social media.
The DepEd admitted that some 66,000 classrooms being funded between 2014 and 2018 had yet to be completed or turned over, citing also the delay in their budget.
More than 27 million students trooped to schools across the country as the new school year opened on June 3.
Aside from the shortage in classrooms and learning materials, its 900,000 teachers and personnel are also hounded by meager salaries despite the three-year-old promise of President Rodrigo Duterte to increase it. (SunStar Philippines)