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Young Blood

Long overdue

04:03 AM October 08, 2019

If you are an aspiring educator and if you think teaching is a lucrative job, you still have time to reconsider other professions.

Teachers are the creators of other professions. Cliché as it may sound, without teachers, there will be no other professions in the world. But it’s sad that in our country, the teacher’s voice is neglected. An entry-level teaching position that pays P20,754 can’t possibly raise a family.

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Others may think that once you’re hired in a public school, you are fortunate enough because you are in government service. They don’t know that a lot of teachers suffer in many ways — physically, mentally, financially and emotionally. Being a public school teacher is draining. All the passion and love you once had upon entering the institution slowly diminishes in time because of the rotten system.

Imagine facing 50 to 60 students in a class, with six to eight subject loads every day. You have to monitor their individual learning progress and provide all possible interventions because once they fail, it’s your fault. You have to lower your standards, do home visitation every weekend, revisit their grades so that your students pass your subject even if their learning is inadequate.

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Teachers have to prepare daily lesson logs, create numerous instructional materials, provide their own classroom—bulletin board, as well as paint, nails, broom, floor wax… the list goes on. To make their classrooms effective spaces for learning, teachers are forced to spend from their own pockets, and because of this, many of them owe loan shark companies onerous debts, while making do with measly take-home pay. Some of them are designated to do ancillary works and are even required to report on weekends.

Who says being a teacher is an easy job? If teachers are demanding higher pay, it’s because they deserve it. Teaching may be a noble profession, but passion and idealism alone cannot feed a starving person. In reality, teachers have to wait for someone to retire or die to get a crack at being promoted. Even in the education sector, politics and politicking are prevalent. No matter how qualified you are, if you are not in your superior’s favor, your professional growth is curtailed.

In higher educational institutions, the role of educators is not only for instruction. They also have to craft research studies, publish in a referenced journal (a tedious process), do extension works. Instructors and professors are put in a pressure-cooker environment, and they have no choice but to cope with these demands. They have to double their efforts and sacrifice aspects of their lives just to get that .0000000001 point needed for board certification ranking.

What is doubly unfair, given these harsh realities afflicting the teaching profession, is that many unqualified people get high positions in government and receive fat salaries that are taken from taxpayer money. They have not proven anything to be worthy of their cushy positions; one, in particular, is even a purveyor of disinformation on social media. Are these the people who deserve to lead our country?

Giveaways, free fries, discounted museum tickets, marked-down eyeglasses and other perks are not what the teachers need. They need to be justly compensated for their efforts. The Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, which mandates overtime pay, medical benefits and other amenities, also need to be fully implemented. And it is high time that policies with regard to clerical work and the merit and promotional system be amended. These demands do not mean in any way that teachers are only concerned about monetizing the value of their work in shaping the minds and hearts of young citizens. Like any other professional, they want their crucial role in society to be valued and compensated for in a fair and just manner.

In Luxembourg, the starting salary of lower secondary teachers is $79,000. Teachers in that country earn 30 percent more than any other teacher in the world.

If Sen. Sonny Angara’s Senate Bill No. 131 is approved, the salary of public school teachers will be increased from Salary Grade 11 (P20,754) to Salary Grade 19 (P45,269), based on the fourth tranche of the Salary Standardization Law. Angara believes the government should give educators the pay raise they deserve, since their salaries have remained the same over the years while those of policemen and soldiers have gone up.

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Teachers transform the lives of their students and help create an active, engaged, thinking citizenry. But if they continue to remain a neglected sector and their long-overdue demands are ignored, the Philippines may be left behind for good as a Third World country.

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Marlon S. Pontillas, 26, a former DepEd teacher, is now a college instructor at Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges.

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TAGS: education, Marlon S. Pontillas, teachers' pay, teaching, Young Blood
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