DepEd exec: Central Visayas lacks teachers, but students’ learning still continues

SALUSTIANO JIMENEZ | Director, DepEd Central Visayas
SALUSTIANO JIMENEZ | Director, DepEd Central Visayas

THE Central Visayas region is facing a shortage of teachers, but an official from the Department of Education (DepEd) in the region has assured that all students are well taken care of.

DepEd Central Visayas Director Salustiano Jimenez said they are taking measures to effectively teach students despite the shortage of teachers.

“If you are going to strictly check, our number of teachers is not enough, but our schools and divisions officers do have some strategies to at least address concerns on lack of teachers,” Jimenez told SunStar Cebu on Tuesday, May 23, 2023.

Jimenez said there are currently 70,577 teaching personnel in Central Visayas for school year 2022-2023. However, he did not give the exact number of teachers that the DepEd 7 needs as his office still has to complete its data validation.

The DepEd 7 head said the number of teachers “changes every day.”

“If today this is our need, then tomorrow someone retires, then the figure is different. Our agency is so big, I really could not tell,” Jimenez said, adding that even though they lack teaching personnel, “there is no single learner that we did not accommodate.”

Almost 1.9 million students are enrolled in public schools in Central Visayas for this school year.

Factors

Jimenez said one of the factors contributing to the discrepancy between the number of instructors needed and those currently employed is the growing student population.

Although the DepEd hires more public school teachers to keep up with the one to two percent rise in enrollment each school year, Jimenez said there are reasons why they are still short on teachers.

“Aside from the increase, there are teachers who retire, there are those who die, and some migrate outside the country. Those are the reasons we keep having a lack of teachers,” he said.

“The thing we do, even though we lack in teachers, is we still address it by adopting strategies,” he added.

Interventions

One of the DepEd 7’s strategies involves going beyond the suggested teacher-to-student ratio for each class.

According to Jimenez, the optimal teacher-to-student ratio for kindergarten is one teacher is to 25 students. But in some cases, they raise it to 30.

He further said the maximum teacher-to-student ratio for elementary and secondary levels is one is to 45. Some schools have classes with more than 50 students.

The DepEd 7 official further said that even the teaching related personnel, or those promoted teachers and were assigned in offices, are also handling teaching loads.

“Some principals handle classes just to make sure we can address the concern,” Jimenez said.

According to the DepEd 7, there are at least 2,250 teaching related personnel in Central Visayas, some of whom are teaching pupils in elementary, junior high and senior high school levels.

Underpaid teachers

According to Antonia Lim, president of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) in Central Visayas, the poor pay of teachers is the clear cause of the lack of educators in the region.

“If a teacher is late for a minute, there is a salary deduction. But if the teacher goes overtime, [he] only [gets a] ‘thank you,’” Lim told SunStar Cebu on Wednesday, May 24.

Lim added that some teachers’ net take home pay is only P5,000 per month.

She said teachers receive inadequate compensation, particularly those working in public schools who are placed in remote locations where they feel compelled to foot the bill for classroom repairs.

Lim lamented the slow hiring process of public school teachers, blaming the DepEd for it.

“There are so many applicants; many line up at DepEd. However, it takes them some time to hire teachers,” she said.

In order to accommodate more students, teachers must take on an additional teaching load, leaving them overworked, according to Lim.

She said there are classes in which teachers handle 60 or more students.

The school divisions in Central Visayas are Bohol Province, Tagbilaran City, Siquijor Province, Bais City, Bayawan City, Canlaon City, Dumaguete City, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental Province, Tanjay City, Bogo City, Danao City, Mandaue City, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu City, Cebu Province, Talisay City, City of Naga, Carcar City, and Toledo City.

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