The shaky private school landscape
The school year 2022 to 2023 is now at its homestretch as we head into the last quarter of the academic year. Some private school teachers face the yearly dilemma of informing their school administrators if they intend to continue teaching at the same institution. Several may have no plan of doing so, as they see no better prospects in the private school they’re working for. In fact, some may have already applied at public schools, and are merely waiting for a favorable response.
Consider the following figures that await them at public schools: A starting salary of P27,000.00 (Teacher 1), a P6,000 clothing allowance, a midyear and year-end bonus worth a month’s basic salary each, a P5,000 cash gift, a P5,000 productivity enhancement incentive, a P3,000 anniversary bonus given every five years, a P3,500 chalk allowance, a performance bonus worth 50 percent to 65 percent of one month’s basic salary, and proportional vacation pay (70 days during the summer and Christmas break for those who have rendered full service during the school year). Aside from these entitlements from the Department of Education (DepEd), public school teachers receive social security benefits from the Government Service Insurance System, retirement pay, life insurance coverage, PhilHealth insurance, and coverage under the Employees’ Compensation Program.
Given such generous and tempting benefits, one can’t really blame private school teachers for making the switch to public schools. The questions in my mind are: How can the government help private school owners retain good teachers who are crucial in making them meet their objective of providing quality education? And since many students from private schools that have closed down transfer to public schools, how can public school teachers effectively teach amidst a student population that’s bursting at the seams? As stated in this paper’s editorial, “Our teachers deserve better” (10/5/2022), “[w]hile official statistics show a more-than-ideal teacher-student ratio, it is not uncommon to read reports about the ratio reaching as high as 90 students being assigned to a single educator, especially in more impoverished, less developed areas of the country.”
Similarly, the Union of Catholic Asian News on Aug. 18, 2022, quoted the DepEd as saying that more than 860 out of 14,000 private schools in the Philippines have closed their doors since the pandemic hit in March 2020, affecting 58,327 students and 4,488 teachers. One might think that private schools that remain operational would fare better with less competition, but sadly, many of them struggle to reach the ideal number of students and to hire and retain (good) teachers. The fact is, the school owners’ financial stability is at peril with the trend of student migration to public schools, as they still have to give teachers their standard salary which may only be possible through a much-dreaded tuition increase.
I think it’s time for the government to seriously look into this situation. During the national budget planning, can the House of Representatives consider the idea of using part of the DepEd budget to partially subsidize the salary and other benefits of private school teachers? After all, we also deserve some attention and help from the government as taxpayers of the country, as productive citizens, and as educators of future builders and leaders of our nation.
Loreliza V. Catuiran has a master’s degree in education, major in educational management, from the Philippine Women’s University (PWU). She is the high school academic coordinator at PWU-Jose Abad Santos Memorial School, Quezon City.
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