By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
In an attempt to find out why public school teachers tend to overborrow money from various lending institutions, the Department of Education (DepEd) will look into their “spending patterns” as well as into other possible factors why their propensity to borrow is higher compared to other government employees.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones, in an earlier interview, noted that as a researcher and an academician, she wants to find out more about the culture of borrowing among public school teachers. “I want to find out that’s why I’m looking at their spending patterns and looking into their propensity to borrow compared to other households,” she said.
Briones said aside from the unpaid loans, “the bigger problem is the propensity to borrow and we have to understand why does it happen and why is it happening in a more prevalent way than any other employee of government?”
Citing a study of the Philippine Institute for Developmental Studies (PIDS) on households, Briones noted that the propensity of public school teachers to borrow is 50 percent higher compared to other employees of the government such as the police and nurses.
“This is something that we have to understand,” Briones said. “I have already been thinking about this, why is that so?” she added. Groups of teachers such as the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) have been claiming that the primary reason why most educators – particularly in the public sector – avail of so many loans is that their salary “is not enough for a decent living.”
However, Briones said many public school teachers – especially those who been promoted and have spent long years in service – have higher salaries compared to other government employees. They also enjoy other incentives – both from the national and local governments. Among these are a two-month paid vacation during summer break, clothing and “chalk” allowances, Christmas bonuses, and performance bonuses.
Briones also noted that public school teachers – compared to their counterparts in small private schools in the provinces – are also paid “30 percent higher.” And when compared to private schools in Mindanao, she added that public school teachers are also paid “50 percent higher.”
“Another question is what do they spend their borrowed money on?” Briones said. Before, she noted that teachers borrow money to pay for the tuition of their children.
But now, based initial findings, Briones noted that teachers spend on a variety of things including travel abroad. “There’s nothing wrong in traveling abroad but what is the choice that you will make? They have to make financial choices among themselves,” she said.
Briones also noted that many public school teachers tend to continue borrowing even if they already have loans from various lending institutions.
“They are under the false illusion that they are under the P4,000 net take home pay but what they don’t realize is that the loans accumulate,” Briones said. One teacher, she explained, has P5,000 take home pay because “he has loans from seven lending institutions.”
Aside from the possibility of not receiving any pay once they retire, public school teachers may also suffer sanctions – from mere reprimand to revocation of their licenses to teach – due to their unpaid loans.
Data from the Philippine Regulation Commission (PRC) showed that there are more than 500 pending cases versus teachers filed by various lending institutions in the past three years.