Yes, teachers are underpaid, even ‘underappreciated’

03:34 AM July 03, 2017

I opted to get out of teaching after spending 15 prime years. I beg to disagree with Education Secretary Leonor Briones’ claim that public school teachers are not underpaid (News, 6/21/17).

As a matter of fact, public school teachers are not only underpaid; worse, they are “underappreciated.”


I remain vocal in my support for my former colleagues and friends in the profession. I may not be connected with the public school system anymore, but my being a teacher at heart will remain for life.

Sadly, only a few are as vocal as I am. In my desperate attempts to call much-needed attention to the plight of those who remain loyal to the service, I wrote some letters that were published in the Inquirer.


1. “Why government doesn’t care for public school teachers” (5/10/07)
2. “Teachers deserve to live quality life” (7/18/08)
3. “Translate ‘Thanks, Ma’am’ into
action (10/11/11)

Secretary Briones mentioned something about the teachers’ two-month paid leave during summer vacations. But the summer break is not totally carefree days for our unsung heroes who have to attend to tons of yearend reports/paperwork, spearhead “Brigada Eskwela,” serve during enrollment, participate in in-service trainings, etc.

How about the trainings for teachers? In those years that I was a teacher, I attended sorely boring good-for-nothing generic mass training programs, which to most attendees were conducted by the Department of Education just to comply with its mandate to subject its teachers to professional development. What a waste of resources and time. Why not provide these teachers, instead, with reading materials, books, newspapers, magazines, and the latest learning materials, etc.?

Yes, the salary of teachers has been upgraded after I left the service. But still, such an increase can never compensate for the high demands of their calling. Voluminous paperwork that takes so much of the teachers’ time, denying them opportunities to spend quality time at home. Issues on delayed salaries, salary increments, chalk allowance, clothing allowance, etc. persist, even in the city. How much more for teachers in the provinces and rural areas?

Why our teachers have to beg for the timely release of their monetary benefits is something I cannot understand. This is the reason many teachers become regular clients of loan sharks, with their ATM cards as instant collateral for various loans. For this, teachers are said to be “Londoners” (loan dito, loan doon). Worse, with loans here and there, the teachers’ take home-pay is not even enough to take them home.

Also, teachers are not accorded automatic promotion. If ever, more often than not, promotion is not based on merit. Many of those promoted do not deserve their perky posts. And many others remain Teacher 1 (entry level) all their lives though fully dedicated to the service.

I care so much for my former colleagues and teacher-friends. I long for the day when they can tell me and make me realize that they made the right decision to stay put. So far, what I hear them say whenever and wherever we meet is “Buti ka pa, Belen, na nakaalis na sa pagtuturo (Good for you, Belen, that you were able to leave teaching).”


BELEN DOCENA-ASUELO, [email protected]

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TAGS: Belen Docena-Asuelo, Department of Education, DepEd, Inquirer letters, Inquirer Opinion, Leonor briones, Public School Teachers, teachers' salaries
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