By Hannah Torregoza
Reelectionist Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara has sought passage of a bill lowering the age of optional retirement of public school teachers.
Angara, who is seeking another Senate term in the upcoming May 2019 midterm elections, said the bill takes into account the heavy workload public school teachers accept as part of their duty and their right to better benefits and working conditions.
Angara said part of his legislative agenda should he win another Senate term in the upcoming May 2019 midterm elections would be the needs of the education sector especially of public school teachers so they can get better salary and improve their profession.
Angara noted that while instruction time is officially six hours a day, most teachers work much longer hours doing multiple responsibilities in school.
He said teachers even work during vacation months and beyond the classroom and school premises.
“The country does face a perennial shortage of teachers, but respect and humane consideration for our hardworking educators should prompt policymakers and legislators to at least lower the optional retirement age from today’s 60 years old to 55 years old,” Angara said in the explanatory note of Senate Bill No. 1872, which he earlier filed at the Senate.
The bill primarily aims to lower the optional retirement age of public school teachers from 60 to 55 years old, amending Section 13-A of the Government Service Insurance System Act of 1997.
Being a child of a teacher, his father, and a known educator – the late Sen. Edgardo J. Angara, former president of the University of the Philippines – Angara said he knows the travails and sacrifices of teachers.
He said many public school teachers have expressed their desire to retire from their noble profession at an age earlier than what is currently set by the law, where mandatory retirement is at 65 years old.
Angara said he believes pushing for wide-ranging reforms to improve the quality of life of public school teachers would lead to a better quality of education in the country.
“The Philippines ranks among the countries with the most dismal statistics descriptive of teachers’ working conditions. According to 2015 UNESCO data, Filipino teachers have to contend with less than optimal pupil-teacher ratios –an average of 31 students (primary level) to 45 students (secondary level)—and large average class sizes—42.4 (primary) and 43.7 (secondary),” he said.
“When compared to figures worldwide, it is harder to be a public school teacher in the Philippines than in most countries, where mandatory retirement age is generally 60 years old,” the lawmaker pointed out.
The bill is still pending at the Senate committee on civil service, government reorganization, and professional regulation.