Tell it to SunStar: What Duterte accomplishments?

Tell it to SunStar: What Duterte accomplishments?
SunStar Tell it

By The Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Philippines

This is in reaction to newly appointed Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Sonny Angara’s statement that he “eagerly looks forward to building on the gains made during (Sara Duterte’s) stint.” We, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, assert that there are no accomplishments to build on but much to undo with what Duterte has done in the department. On the other hand, Angara can initiate steps that will address the pressing concerns of the education sector, which have been neglected, if not contradicted, by the past DepEd secretary.

In his first days after assuming office, Angara can do the following measures to set his administration apart from his predecessor’s and start steering his leadership towards the right path:

1. Halt the pilot-testing of the Matatag curriculum, especially that the Education Commission II is yet to finalize its assessment of and recommendations for the education system. In the implementation of the Matatag curriculum, our students, once again, are treated like guinea pigs in an experiment which is not grounded on a comprehensive assessment and did not undergo democratic consultations, not to mention lacking necessary preparation such as adequate teacher training and provision of needed materials;

2. Issue a statement expressing his support for substantial salary increase for teachers and education support personnel, which Duterte never did and even contradicted;

3. Scrap of the Results-based Performance Management System (RPMS) in DepEd and halt the order for the submission of the Individual Performance Commitment and Review form, which only proved to be burdensome for teachers with no help to improving the quality of teaching.

4. Issue an order prohibiting the practice of red-tagging in schools and the whole department, based on the Supreme Court’s decision citing that red-tagging threatens right to life, liberty and security. Disallow the conduct of NTF-ELCAC/AFP/PNP red-tagging seminars in schools.

5. Hold democratic consultations with education stakeholders to know more of their concerns and demands.

To comprehensively address the education crisis, we challenge the new DepEd Secretary to veer away from the crippling neoliberal policies in education and pursue the following measures to establish a nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented education system:

1. Push for the doubling the education budget to fulfil the United Nation’s standard of allocating education budget equivalent to six percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

2. Aggressively address the enormous backlogs in classroom and facility construction, and creation of teaching items to effectively reduce the class size to 20 students in Kindergarten and 35 students in elementary and high school.

3. Push for the development of culturally appropriate national assessment test, instead of relying on the Program for International Student Assessment (Pisa), to determine the nature and extent of the learning crisis, as well as design and implement an evidence-based education recovery program.

4. Provide sufficient and quality teaching and learning resources such as gadgets, textbooks, modules, internet allowance, etc.

5. Overhaul the K-12 curriculum towards an education that molds a Filipino citizenry who has strong patriotic ideals, trained in scientific study, capable of critical and creative thinking, and has a deep sense of service to the people. Reinstate Philippine History as a dedicated subject in the high school curriculum, with stress on factual Martial Law education to counter historical distortion; strengthen the teaching and use of Filipino and Mother Tongue in education.

6. Urgently push for substantial salary increase for teachers and education support personnel: P50,000 entry-level salary for Teachers and P33,000 monthly salary for Salary Grade I employees; and support the call to set minimum salary standards for private school teachers, at par with those in public schools.

7. Aggressively work for the creation of sufficient education support personnel items for schools to truly unload teachers of burdensome administrative duties and enable them to focus on instruction; regularize contractual teachers and education support personnel.

8. Work for the improvement of the benefits of education workers: grant 15 days sick leave for public school teachers; grant P3,000 inflation adjustment allowance for all government employees; lower the optional retirement age of government workers to 56 year old; expand and improve benefits for GSIS and SSS members; exempt election service compensation from taxes.

9. Ensure the enjoyment of academic freedom of all teachers, and full union rights of all education workers.

10. Implement a democratic style of governance, hold regular dialogues and democratic consultations with education stakeholders on concerns that affect them, ensure the representation of teachers’ unions in all decision-making bodies that affect their welfare and of the education sector as a whole.

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