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Teachers remind DepEd to look into their welfare amid preparations for school opening

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By Merlina Hernando-Malipot

A group of teachers on Wednesday reminded the Department of Education (DepEd) to look into the welfare of teachers as the department prepares for the opening of classes for School Year (SY) 2019-2020.

Black armband protest in support for tutors pay hike - High School teacher Mrs. Felicitas Dominguez and President of Pangasinan National High School Employees Association wears a black armband during her class today (July 28, 14) at Pangasinan National High School in Lingayen as part of a nationwide call of public school teachers to President Benigno Aquino III who holds a today the State of the Nation Address (SONA), to put into law the House Bill 245 or the salary upgrade for public school teaching and non-teaching personnel. (mbpictures/teachers_black_armband_protest_SONA_pangasinan/28_july_2014/jojo_riñoza)

(Jojo Riñoza / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC), in a statement, said that the DepEd should also prioritize the welfare of teachers as it prepares for the opening of a new school year.

“In less than a week, classes will resume and while the DepEd is preparing for everything from classrooms, books, facilities, school security and coordination with other agencies, it seems to forget the single most important factor in the learning process – the teachers,” TDC National Chairperson Benjo Basas said.

Public schools are set to start classes on June 3. To prepare for the school opening, the DepEd has launched the Oplan Balik Eskwela (OBE) early this week. The OBE aims to ensure smooth opening of classes in cooperation with various government agencies and the private sector.

While TDC appreciates all the preparation that DepEd is doing in an effort to ensure smooth opening of classes – particularly in public schools, the group said that the agency “should also address the welfare concerns of our teachers as well.”

This, Basas said, can be done by “advocating for an immediate increase in our salaries” and by taking the steps to “fix the mess in GSIS [Government Service Insurance System] or creating an independent insurance system for its employees.”

TDC also urged DepEd to order the implementation of the 53-year old Magna Carta for Teachers and “provide us with the benefits mandated by law like overtime pay, paid study leave, hardship allowance and medical benefits, among others.”

Earlier, Secretary Leonor Briones underscored the DepEd’s efforts to ensure the readiness of almost 62,000 schools—47,205 of which are public—that will accommodate the projected 27.8 million learners in the coming school year.

From a total of 27,018,509, the number of learners is expected to rise to 27,817,737—a 2.95 percent growth rate from the previous school year. Briones also shared the Department’s programs, projects, and activities in preparation for the opening of classes which include the early registration held from January 26 to February 22.

Briones noted that through child mapping and community advocacies carried out by schools, approximately five million new entrants from Kindergarten and Grades 1, 7, and 11 were able to register early.

The Brigada Eskwela, held from May 20 to 25, also gathered learners, parents, teachers, community members, partners from the public and private sector, and other stakeholders to contribute their time, effort, and resources to ensure that the schools are safe and conducive to learning come the opening of classes.

Aside from the national schools maintenance program, DepEd has reactivated its OBE to provide a venue at the Central, Regional, and Division Offices to address the problems and concerns encountered by the public at the start of the school year. The Public Assistance and Command Center (PACC) at the DepEd Central Office shall operate from May 27 to June 7.

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