CEBU CITY -- While it says it has a sufficient number of teachers, the Department of Education (DepEd) Central Visayas also said it is set to hire close to 3,500 more teachers this school year.
Officials of DepEd 7 revealed that the hiring of 3,425 teachers will follow the implementation of a policy that prevents local government units from hiring teachers.
Education professors are confident that enrollees in education courses will continue to increase because of the attractive compensation and benefits the National Government offers public school teachers.
But while the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Central Visayas revealed that the number of enrollees in education courses has increased in the past three years, not all graduates end up teaching in public schools.
Dr. Carmelita Dulangon, DepEd 7 director, said the agency needed the additional teachers, considering that they are implementing a policy ordered by the DepEd Central office in Manila that discourages LGUs from hiring teacher-aide volunteers (TAVs) or locally-hired teachers.
Currently, the region has around 44,000 public school teachers.
Dr. Filomena Dayagbil of Cebu Normal University (CNU) believes that reforms in the public education system have contributed to the growing number of education enrollees annually.
Dayagbil, who is the dean of CNU’s College of Teacher Education, said that with DepEd’s current high standards when it comes to salaries and benefits for teachers, it is no wonder why a lot of their graduates would aspire for a career in public education.
“Even owners of private schools are worried as public schools are offering higher salaries for entry-level applicants,” Dayagbil said.
The CNU, which is considered as a Center for Teacher Development in Central Visayas, has been producing topnotchers in the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) for five consecutive years.
Dayagbil added that with DepEd as its biggest stakeholder, they are helping the agency in producing qualified public school teachers.
With the implementation of the K+12 curriculum, CNU is further boosting its programs to ensure that they are up to date.
But the increasing number of education enrollees is not limited to CNU, and has been reported in other teacher education institutions (TEIs) in the region.
Based on CHED 7’s report, the numbers of education enrollees and graduates in the region were significantly high from 2011 to 2013.
A total of 21,101 education students were enrolled in the region’s TEIs during the school year 2011-2012.
That same year, there were 4,390 students who were newly enrolled in education courses, while 3,367 others graduated.
In the following school year, the number of education students enrolled slightly decreased to 16,900. About 4,660 new students were enrolled and 1,837 graduated that year.
But in school year 2013-2014, the number of education majors in the region significantly increased to 40 113. New enrollees also increased during the year, with 11,430 students.
About 5,082 education students also graduated in that academic year year.
But an education official revealed that while the number of enrollees in education courses continues to increase, not all graduates would end up as public school teachers.
Luchi Flores, executive director of the Coalition for Better Education (CBE), said that even with the government’s offer of bigger salaries and security of tenure, a lot of school teachers would still prefer the private sector because it offers more opportunities, aside from teaching.
The growing business process outsourcing (BPO) industry and the demand for teachers abroad are some contributing factors to why some education students won’t aspire to teach in public schools, Flores revealed.
She revealed that some aspiring teachers are often disenchanted with the public school system because of the difficult working conditions, including overcrowded classrooms and an increased level of responsibility.
“The teacher is not only the class adviser, he/she also does non-academic responsibilities such as serving as treasurer of the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) and as moderator in the Boy and Girl Scouts. She might even serve as the maker of costumes for students during extra-curricular activities such as the Sinulog,” Flores said.
Ralph Ocaña, a public school teacher based in Bayawan City in Negros Oriental, said that while the starting salary would often attract a lot of applicants, teachers like him have to contend with common problems encountered in most public schools.
Ocaña said that majority of public school teachers like him are teaching subjects they do not specialize in. While his major subject is English, Ocaña also teaches music, arts, physical education and health (MAPEH).
Marinel (who declined to use her real name), a teacher in a public school in Minglanilla town, revealed that most of her colleagues are considering leaving the public school system for greener pastures.
While salary and the security of tenure often attract teachers to work for public schools, Marinel revealed that it’s often not enough.
Dulangon said that in order to attract aspiring public school teachers, DepEd had increased the salaries of teachers per month.
A public school teacher may receive a monthly salary of P18,000, plus P2,000 as Personal Emergency Relief Allowance (PERA) and travelling and transportation allowances in the case of mobile teachers.
They also receive productivity incentives and performance-based bonuses.
Dulangon added that public school teachers, especially those who have been serving 15 years or those 60 years old, can receive retirement benefits from the government.
But despite the generous salaries, Dulangon admitted that some public teachers are easily disenchanted with the job because of the increasing cost of living.
Flores and Dayagbil said they agreed that the DepEd should institute salary increases and incentives, especially with the K to 12 curriculum being implemented in public schools.
While she believes that the DepEd has given enough for its teachers, Dayagbil said that the agency can further convince their public school teachers to stay by increasing their salaries and providing them with enough logistical support.
Dayagbil added that she is proud that 90 percent of their graduates would end up as public school teachers.
Aside from cash incentives, the DepEd should also reward teachers and principals whose schools have excelled in academic and non-academic ventures, was one suggestion.
Flores said that DepEd should strengthen its school-based management programs in order to lessen the responsibilities of public school teachers.
She added that DepEd should also reward teachers who helped other educators in terms of how they would implement the new K to 12 curriculum. (Sun.Star Cebu)