Pacete: In defense of teachers

As I See It

ON A breakfast table last Tuesday morning, I was confronted by three teachers... my wife and my two daughters. They informed me that two radio personalities, one anchorman and one reporter, embarrassed the teachers in their conversation over the radio. The meat of the chit-chat was about the teachers receiving their salaries even when there is no class.

The Omnibus Civil Service Rules clearly explains that teachers are entitled to proportional vacation pay of 70 days during summer vacation. That should really be for vacation but teachers still keep on coming back to school to finish their forms, help check the forms of other teachers, distribute the cards of the children and attend pocket meetings.

Seminars, trainings, workshops and other conferences are held during summer vacation so as not to disrupt the regular classes during the school year. Before the opening of classes, teachers should be in school to help in the enrolment of the children and to prepare for the Brigada Eskwela. That two-month vacation is no vacation at all. The two radio personalities failed to make proper research on the actual activities of the teachers.

It is mandated by law that teachers should also enjoy a fourteen-day Christmas vacation. The intention of the law for the vacation periods for the teachers is, at least, to relax their vocal cords and to repair health from too much work during class days. Even the machines malfunction if they do not stop.

Teachers are not the privileged employees of the government. They are not just for schools and classrooms. They do other works for the government... giving feedbacks for the 4Ps program, function as census enumerators, nutrition facilitators, deworming recorders, barangay vegetable garden expeditors, community club advisers, town fiesta coordinators, election canvassers or inspectors, etc.

That could be the reason why most of the time teachers are known as the “loyal work horses of the government”. There could be other “loyal work horses” but that is another story. I know all these because I was once a teacher. I was in their shoes for twenty years. I can always compare my work as a tourism officer and as a teacher. Teaching is more rewarding but not easy.

As a tourism officer, I availed my fifteen-day sick leave, five-day forced leave, and the much-awaited monetization every year. At times, if we worked beyond official time during fiestas and other special occasions, my staff and I enjoyed overtime pay. Teachers just work beyond official time but with no overtime pay.

Teachers have to render extra service outside of class days for their service credit to be used if they are sick or if they really need to be out of the classroom for emergency reason. If they have no service credit and they are out of school, that would be counted as leave of absence without pay.

The money provided by the government to the teachers during summer vacation is not an assistance like the special amelioration program (SAP). It is their right and privilege because they are government full-time employees under the Department of Education and their rights are safeguarded by the Philippine Civil Service Commission.

To our media brothers who bashed our teachers, kindly make an apology on air in your program. In times like this, we cannot afford to be divided. We need the teachers and we need media. Our teachers taught us good manners and right conduct in speech and in action. They deserve that respect in their most noble profession. If we have valid comments, we can always follow media decorum as professionals.

If classes will not open on August 24, 2020 as ruled by President Duterte, teachers are still reporting to school on June 1, Monday... physically or virtually. They will be preparing workbooks, work sheets, learning modules, contextualized reading materials and other references to enhance the competencies of the learners. The materials will be used when everything comes to normal.

Teachers are our frontliners in education. Time will come that Covid-19 will fade away or hibernate momentarily. Just like the old fire, our teachers will still be there to transform the mind so that we can have more doctors, engineers, nurses, accountants, skilled workers, new teachers, soldiers, media men and other productive Filipinos for the resurrection of our country. Mabuhay ang mga teachers!


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