By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Amid the concerns being raised by various teachers groups, Education Secretary Leonor Briones noted that it is “unfair” to claim that theirs is the “most” neglected sector.
“Educators have a very important role, because, of course, we hold the future of our citizens,” Briones said earlier. “[But] we don’t like to give the impression na ang pinaka-aping-api ay teacher [dahil] sa tingin natin, marami ng nagawa [para sa kanila – pinakamahal ang teacher talaga,” she added.
Given this, Briones noted that teachers should also be mindful of what they teach the country’s future citizens. “[We should teach them not only] to think not only of their sector, what is good for them,” she said. “When we look at the plight of our public school teachers, we have to look at their plight in terms also of the plight of the nurse, guidance counselor, janitor and others,” she added.
While teachers have a very important role in nation-building, Briones stressed that so as the administrative officers and other nonteaching personnel of the schools. “Hindi ko minamaliit ang mga teachers, mahalaga ang mga teachers at ang pinaka-importanteng sangay ng gobyerno ay ang DepEd kaya ang constitution ay very clear that the highest level spending should be for education,” she said. “Pero hindi dahil tayo ang pinakamahal, isang sector lang ng DepEd ang hirap na hirap,” she added.
Briones was reacting to some claims of teachers groups that educators are “overworked” due to the policies implemented by DepEd. “Lahat sa DepEd naghihirap, nagta-trabahaho…hindi nagbibilang ng oras at araw, hindi lamang ng teacher,” she said. “Lahat ng seryoso na nasa pamahalaan, na nagsisilbi sa taong-bayan, talagang naghihirap,” she added.
It is very important, Briones said, “to put into context” that the severity of one sector’s problems. “Importante sa atin na ilagay sa context na ang problema ng isang sector ay nagsasabi sila ang ‘pinaka’,” she explained. “It’s not just one sector claiming about having a difficult life, it’s the entire country – it’s all of us,” she added.
Briones said there are so many personnel of the DepEd and other government agencies “who give more than themselves” aside from teachers. “Kung may estudyante kang kailangan turuan, hindi ka nagbibilang ng six hours, yun ang ating hinahanap sa lahat ng nagsisilbi ng bayan at hindi lang ang DepEd,” she added.
Teachers, like other government employees, should know what to expect when they decided to go into public service. “Don’t tell me what you don’t know what it’s like to work in the government,” Briones said. “There are things which may seem clerical which are important to your work and things that you cannot do without,” she added.
Earlier, groups Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) – Philippines laid out their “demands.” They are asking DepEd to address the several issues and concerns, which according to them, add up to the already “heavy” workload of teachers.