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DepEd urged to increase schools’ absorptive capacity

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By Merlina Hernando-Malipot

A teachers’ federation on Saturday welcomed the creation of new teacher positions as announced by the Department of Education (DepEd) but warned that this may be “futile” if the absorptive capacities of schools will not be increased.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers (MANILA BULLETIN)

Alliance of Concerned Teachers (MANILA BULLETIN)

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines welcomed and supported the creation of new positions that will “serve as opportunities for career development for teachers.” However, the group expressed concern that this “will not suffice” in increasing the absorptive capacities of schools.

Earlier, DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan confirmed the creation of new positions for teachers. The DepEd, he noted, “specifically sought the creation of new ranks” which include Teacher IV, Teacher V, Teacher VI, and Teacher VII with corresponding higher salary grades after the current items of Teacher I, Teacher II and Teacher III.

“This directly benefits about 94% of the 900,000 [plus] teachers who are in T1 [teacher 1] to T3 [teacher 3] levels, through greater promotion opportunities,” Malaluan said. “Promotions, in turn, are aligned to professional development or upskilling of teachers,” he added.

While ACT supported the creation of new positions, it noted that this “should be implemented along with immediate moves to address the perennial problems in schools.” This, the group added, will allow teachers “to gain strides towards improving the over-all state of the Philippine education system.”

From Access to Quality?

The creation of teacher position, Malaluan said, is part of reforms being implemented and initiated by DepEd in its pivot from access to quality.

However, the ACT raised that the DepEds’s proclaimed shift of focus from ensuring access to providing quality education “may end up being superficial” if schools’ absorptive capacity “will not be significantly improved.”

ACT cited the “perennial and severe shortages” in the entire basic education system as “great challenges” that require immediate and sincere attention from the government.

The group cited that teachers and students still “suffer” due to “severe shortages at schools.” These include the lack of learning resources, faulty or weak and substandard facilities, insufficient classrooms, inadequate number of teachers, zero education support personnel (ESP) in school – among others.

“These make for overworked teachers under dismal conditions while also being underpaid,” said ACT National Chairperson Joselyn Martinez. “All these make it impossible to provide quality education to our youth,” she added.

For ACT, “sincerely raising” the quality of education entails “granting a substantial pay hike to the front-liners in its delivery, improving teachers’ working conditions and students’ learning environment, providing ESPs at the school level who can perform necessary teaching related tasks, allocating bigger budget to education so materials can be adequately provided and facilities be made safe and functional.”

The group argued that the “failure” to address age-old problems will render President Duterte’s approved DepEd proposal for a “communication plan and for harnessing the use of technology superficial in improving the quality of education.”

Meanwhile, the group noted the importance of the curriculum in terms of having quality education. The group agreed that there is a need to “thoroughly review” the K to12 curriculum which ACT has criticized for the array of “problems in its framework and content.”

“The review of the Kto12 curriculum must be directed towards the attainment of education’s objectives as stated in the constitution—to contribute in national development, to instill patriotism and nationalism, and to espouse total human liberation, among others,” ACT said. “These are vital in determining the kind and quality of education we give to our youth,” it ended.

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