Invest in teachers to attain quality public education
Statement for World Teachers’ Day 2009
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers salutes teachers today, World Teachers’
Day 2009. This year’s theme, “Invest in Teachers,” aptly underscores the
need for governments all over the world to provide teachers with the
resources and support necessary to attain quality education for all.
Such a call goes against the grain of the neoliberal economic regimes
being enforced by governments throughout the world, such as privatization,
deregulation, liberalization, and concomitant reductions in public
spending on social services. In the Philippines, the Arroyo government has
imposed tight controls on public sector salaries and strict ceilings on
social spending, resulting in lowered incomes for teachers, worsening
shortages of classrooms, teachers, and other resources, and the forced
commercialization of schools and universities.
Decent Salaries for Teachers
In the past year, ACT led a nationwide campaign to raise teachers’
salaries. Teachers mobilized throughout the country, holding mass meetings
and assemblies, signing petitions, and marching in the streets in their
thousands. We gained the support of the public and developed alliances
with sympathetic legislators, politicians, and administrators. The
campaign likewise enabled ACT to expand its membership and build more
chapters throughout the country. As a result of our efforts, in July 2009,
the Arroyo government implemented the first tranche of the so-called
Salary Standardization Law 3, which upgraded the Teacher I position by one
salary grade (from Salary Grade 10 to 11) and provides an increase of
P6,500 over four years.
The pay hike granted by SSL3, coming after a 6-year moratorium on public
sector salary increases, remains inadequate because it fails to restore
the purchasing power of teachers’ salaries eroded by the rising cost of
living. Furthermore, the SSL3 fails to address the long-standing
distortion in standardized salaries whereby teachers are paid lower than
other positions with lower qualifications.
For these reasons, ACT will continue the struggle for decent remuneration
for teachers by campaigning for the upgrading of teachers to a minimum of
Salary Grade 15.
No to education budget cuts!
On World Teachers’ Day, ACT denounces the reductions in public spending on
education that the Arroyo administration has been imposing in the wake of
the global economic crisis. At a time when 5.6 million school-age children
are out of school, the situation calls for greater investment in quality
public education, not budget cuts.
In 2009, the Malacañang meted out a Php 1.46 billion cut in the
Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses budget of the Department of
Education and a Php 1.89 billion reduction in Capital Outlay. Further cuts
are to be expected in 2010, with a reduction of Php 507 million in MOOE
and a huge Php 4.04 billion in CO in the proposed Department of Education
Inadequate funding and resources for basic education is being cited by the
DepEd as a justification for implementing a new streamlined curriculum
requiring shorter teaching and learning hours for the elementary grades.
This curriculum change has potentially far-reaching implications and must
be opposed because it targets those subjects (Filipino, Sibika, HEKASI)
that educate the youth on the basics of Filipino identity and citizenship.
The government is also inflicting similar cuts in higher education. The
proposed 2010 budget for the country’s 108 State Universities and Colleges
will be reduced by Php 3.2 billion, even as enrolment in public higher
education institutions continues to grow. Notable in the 2010 budget
proposal are the denial of Capital Outlay funds to all SUCs despite the
desperate need to construct more classrooms and other facilities and the
substantial reductions in MOOE (such as the unprecedented Php 280 million
cut for the University of the Philippiens) , which are intended to force
SUCs to adopt even more commercialization measures to generate operating
Debt servicing continues to be the top priority of the Arroyo government,
taking up 22% of the proposed 2010 budget.
GSIS benefits denied
Throughout the term of the current administration, teachers and other
public sector workers have been deprived of the fair and just enjoyment of
their social security benefits due to the oppressive policies of the
Government Service Insurance System. Unwarranted automatic deductions are
being made on their benefits without the benefit of due process. The
collapse of their computer system in recent months has resulted in the
breakdown in the delivery of services to GSIS members and pensioners. Yet
Malacañang continues to coddle the GSIS management led by Winston Garcia,
denying accountability to its disgruntled and oppressed members.
Human rights violations in the education sector
Teachers and teacher organizations have not been spared from the record of
gross human rights violations of the Arroyo administration. In January,
20-year old school teacher Rebelyn Pitao was killed in Davao by suspected
military intelligence agents. An alternative learning school for lumads in
Lianga, Surigao del Sur was targeted by military operations in July. ACT
members in Maliwalo, Tarlac were harassed by a unit of the Philippine Army
in August. In September, a botched surveillance operation conducted by the
Philippine Marines, targeting former ACT national chairperson Prof.
Bienvenido Lumbera was exposed to the public. Such acts of violence and
harassment, which take place in a climate of impunity, are among the worst
violations of basic rights that take place under the Arroyo
The government’s failure to provide security to teachers serving in
isolated and conflict-ridden areas was highlighted by the kidnapping this
year of two separate groups of teachers, one in Zamboanga City and the
other in Zamboanga Sibugay. In both cases, the teachers were held in
captivity for many months before being released by their abductors.
Relief and rehabilitation for flood victims
Lastly, we commemorate this year’s World Teachers’ Day even as hundreds of
thousands of Filipinos, including many thousands of teachers, remain
affected by the floods brought about by tropical storm Ondoy. We urge the
government to prioritize the allocation and release of additional funding
for relief and rehabilitation efforts. At the same time, we support calls
for an independent and thorough review of government policies and
structures that will pinpoint accountability for those factors that
contributed to the scope of the disaster and formulate genuine reforms
that will minimize human suffering in the face of similar natural
calamities in the future.
Decent salaries for teachers! Salary Grade 15 for teachers!
No to education budget cuts! Rechannel debt payments to education and
other social services!
Oust Winston Garcia! Reform the GSIS!
Uphold human rights, end impunity!
Immediate relief for the victims of storm Ondoy!