Teachers, students and education advocates march to Mendiola,

demand sufficient education budget and increases in teachers' salaries and benefits




March 14, 2014




Click here for Kodao video of march to Mendiola

Photos by ACT Philippines, Alex Legaspi, Anakbayan and Demerie Dangla/UP Aperture
as indicated by the filenames


March 14, 2014
For Reference: Ms. France Castro, Secretary – General, 09204166441
Mr. Benjie Valbuena, National President, (+63 916 -229 4515)

Teachers and education advocates will issue PEOPLE’S MEMORANDUM to BS Aquino for abandoning his duties to the people

Educators, students, non-teaching staff, parents and education advocates will march today to call for the raising of salary for public school teachers, non-teaching staff and higher budgetary allocation for the entire education sector.

“The Philippine Constitution’s Article XIV, Section 5 clearly states the government must allot the highest budgetary allocation to education and that salaries for the teachers must give “satisfaction and fulfillment” to them. This is furthered by Republic Act 4670 or the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers which particularly mandated that teachers’ salary must be able to provide reasonable standard of life for themselves and their families. The current pay scheme of government fails to fulfill these criteria. Salaries of public school teachers do not compare favorably with other occupation in government. A duly licensed professional teacher occupying the entry-level position of Teacher I earns P18,549 a month (Salary Grade 11, Step 1), substantially less than a high school graduate who enters the Philippine Military Academy as a cadet who has a monthly salary of P21,709 per month,” said Ms. France Castro, Secretary-General of Alliance of Concerned Teachers.

The salaries of public school teachers are currently unable to “insure a reasonable standard of life for themselves and their families.” According to the study of IBON Foundation, the Family Living Wage (FLW) in the National Capital Region, estimated at P1,054 per day or more than P21,054 per month, which means that many teachers resort to borrowing from government financial institutions such as the Government Service Insurance System, private lending institutions, or loan sharks in order to cope with this “living salary gap.”

The situation has obviously pushed some of our best teachers out of the country to seek better pay and working conditions overseas. There is a huge gap in salary levels of teachers in the country compared with those abroad. For example, Filipino teachers who choose to practice their profession in the United States receive annual salaries ranging from P1.5 to P2.1 million. Meanwhile, an entry-level Teacher I receives P241,137 annually. Appalling economic conditions also overwhelm non-teaching personnel, who perform functions complementary to that of teachers’ duties inside the classroom. As with other low- and middle-level government employees, they are also battered with indecent low pay, receiving a salary of P9,000 per month at the least (Salary Grade 1, Step 1), which is lower than the minimum wage in the National Capital Region.

We cannot simply buy the reason given to us by the BS Aquino regime through Budget Secretary Butch Abad that there is no enough fund for this as seen in the massive corruption taking place in the government through the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), Presidential Social Fund (PSF) and other lump sum allocations. For the Fiscal Year 2014 alone, around 1.1 trillion pesos is allotted under pork allocations under the control of the Pork Barrel King BS Aquino. This amount can already cover the needed amount for the adjustment in the salaries of the public school teachers and non-teaching staff. We demand that the 1.1 trillion pesos and all other pork allocations be rechanneled to education and other social services. With the continuing budget cuts in our SUCs, tuition and other fees went up several folds already and thus decreasing its public character and accessibility to the people especially to those living within and below the poverty line. Sa araw-araw, di ko alam kung papano pagkakasyahin ang kakarampot kong kinikita para lang mapag-aral ang aking mga anak,” lamented Ms. Mar Maluping, a mother of five kids.

Budget cuts in the SUCs as pushed by the Roadmap for Public Higher Education (RPHER) which states that the country’s Top 22 SUCs must be self-reliant and self-sustaining for their budget allocation will be cut by 50% by 2015. This is already seen with the current level of fees being implemented by the country’s national university, the University of the Philippines. UP’s tuition rate at P1,000/unit is already comparable to that of the private colleges and universities in the country. An iskolar ng bayan whose parents are minimum wage earners cannot afford this and what more for parents who do not have a permanent source of income. This is the reason why UP Manila student Kristel Tejada killed herself last March 14, 2013 after she was denied access to UP education due to her parents’ financial incapability to settle her bills.

We understand that the current BS Aquino regime has no intention to increase our salary, and as such we need to bind ourselves, reach out our fellow teachers and non-teaching personnel and forge a unity to have this battle and force BS Aquino to give what is due to us. We are committing ourselves to launch a nationwide campaign to gain support in our communities, local public official and even legislators. The time is now for us to act together for we cannot expect BS Aquino to simply hand us down this legitimate and humane call.

“As we commemorate the 1st Death Anniversary of Kristel Tejada, we are issuing the PEOPLE’S MEMORANDUM TO BS AQUINO for him to act immediately on our demands for higher budgetary allocation for education, increase in salaries of teachers and employees and increase in the people’s personal tax exemption. We will not accept excuses from BS Aquino. We will launch nationwide mass leaves if he continues to be deaf and blind with our demands,” ended Mr. Benjie Valbuena, ACT National President.




Solon joins education workers in march for higher salaries

14 March 2014

Reference: ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio (09209220817)

ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio Tinio joined teachers and non-teaching personnel in basic and higher education in a march from Morayta to Mendiola to demand higher salaries for workers in the education sector. The protest action coincides with the budget preparation phase, during which DepEd and CHED along with the other agencies draft their proposed 2015 budgets.

The education workers demand for a minimum monthly salaries of P25,000 for teachers in basic education, P26,878 (Salary Grade 16) for faculty in SUCs, and an additional P6,000 in the base pay of non-teaching staff. They demand for increases in the bonuses and allowances including chalk allowance and PERA.

Lastly, they call for tax relief measures that will make their earnings catch up with the increase in the prices of basic commodities. These include an increase of basic personal and additional exemptions to P75,000 and P40,000 per dependent as well as the raising to P60,000 the ceiling for tax-exempt bonuses.

These demands, Tinio maintained, are more than covered by the P945 billion presidential and congressional pork barrel still in the 2014 budget, which funds are expected to be proposed again in the next year.

“We have said every year that the biggest savings of government is on teachers and other school staff, along with those in other sectors,” said Tinio. ”This policy of tightening the belt of the education sector forces teaching and non-teaching personnel to live within starvation salaries and bonuses, and take on the workload of several persons due to lack of items.”

“As early as now, we are banging on the doors of DBM and Malacanang. We say to them–Let go of their pork and give these public funds to those who should benefit from them. Public monies are best invested on the education of our children and not line politicians’ pockets.” ###






MARCH 4, 2014

Students walk out of classes to protest impending tuition hike

Protesters carried giant satirized school logos, some of which read “Unibersidad ng Sobrang Tubo for UST (university of excessive profit), “Fastest Earning University for FEU and “Commission for Highly Expensive Education” (Ched).


MANILA –February 28, students from different private schools and state universities and colleges walked out of their classes to condemn the new spate of fee increases that school administrations are set to impose next year. Last Friday was the last day of consultations regarding tuition increases in schools, as mandated by the Commission on Higher Education (Ched).

Students from the University of Santo Tomas (UST), National Teachers College (NTC), University of the East (UE), Far Eastern University (FEU), De La Salle University Manila, De La Salle University Araneta, University of Manila (UM), Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (Earist), Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) and other schools converged in front of UST along España in Manila at noon and marched to the Chino Roces Bridge (former Mendiola Bridge).

Protesters carried giant satirized school logos, some of which read “Unibersidad ng Sobrang Tubo for UST (university of excessive profit), “Fastest Earning University for FEU and “Commission for Highly Expensive Education” (Ched).

‘Bogus’ consultations

Section 5 of the Ched Memorandum Order (CMO) 3-2012 read “all Higher Education Institutions (HEI), public or private, intending to increase their tuition and other fees for the ensuing Academic Year (AY) shall conduct consultations, as hereinafter defined and provided, with their student councils/governments, and their faculty, alumni and/or non-teaching personnel associations.”

While some schools complied with the said requirement; some schools reportedly did not hold such or did it perfunctorily.

Josh, 19, a second year psychology major of Adamson University said that in their university, participation in consultations on tuition and other fee increases were limited to “recognized” student organizations. “But these organizations are passive. They don’t oppose the school administration’s policies including tuition and other fee increases. That is why since I entered fist year, the down payment for enrollment has been increasing every semester,” Josh told Bulatlat.com in an interview.

He said the in 2012, they had to pay P8,000 ($17.92) as down payment, but this increased to P10,000 ($223.97) for the second semester of academic year 2013-2014. And the “recognized student organizations” do not inform the students about the results of the consultations being called by the administration.

“We see it as a bogus consultation, because supposedly all the students should be informed.”

At De La Salle University Araneta, the school administration gave the notice about the consultation to the Supreme Student Council (SSC) one day before it would be held. “It is clear in Section 6 of the CMO (Ched Memorandum Order) 3-2012, that ‘Notices must be sent to all parties involved and conspicuously posted on the HEI’s bulletin boards at least 15 days before the dates of consultations.’ But the school administrations violated this and informed us only one day before,” Robert Gatbonton, fourth year BS English student and president of the SSC said in the short program at the Chino Roces Bridge. He said they were given notice on Feb. 25, the consultation was held on Feb. 26. The SSC walked out from the said consultation.

‘Tuition hikes violate our right to education’

According to the Tuition Monitor, in 2013 there was at least a 3.5 to 10 percent increase in tuition and a more than 300 percent increase in miscellaneous fees. “The average tuition for National Capital Region (NCR) alone is from P20,600 ($461.38) to P36, 650 ($820.85) for 21 units,” said Sarah Elago, national president of National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP).

Next school year, the group said, more than 400 public and private HEIs would increase their tuition and other fees.

“Tuition hikes violate our right to education. Every year that schools raise tuition and other fees, the youth’s promise of a bright future is getting dimmer. It’s like we’re peeping the light from a keyhole,” said Rise for Education Alliance spokesman Philip Bautista.

Lyka Pujante, 20, third year Customs Administration student also at Adamson University said her parents loan money every semester to pay for her education. “Every semester, we don’t know where to get money to pay for down payment,” she told Bulatlat.com. Her parents are minimum wage earners; they are five children in the family and she is the eldest. She said tuition and other fee increases are a scourge as it burdens both the parents and the students. “We dream of having a better life; why are they (the government) taking that away from us?” she said adding that the government should do something to make education accessible and affordable for all.

“Education is a right of every Filipino. It should be made affordable and accessible. In fact, it should be free to every youth of this nation,” said Gatbonton.

No more Kristel Tejada

“Isn’t the government bothered that students are literally taking their lives because they cannot continue with their studies?” said Vencer Crisostomo, chairman of the progressive youth group Anakbayan referring to the suicide of Kristel Tejada, a UP Behavioral Science major student of UP Manila.

“One year ago, we were here in Mendiola to condemn the government for what happened to Kristel. We will not allow that another student kills herself because she cannot pay her tuition,” said Krista Melgarejo, UP Student Regent. She said that after Tejada’s suicide, UP did not scrap the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) but merely amended the UP System Code. “After one year, the tuition in UP stays at P1,500 ($34.09) per unit,” she added.

The students burned a mock registration form to show their opposition against the tuition fee increases and imposition of other fees. They vow to fight for a better future not only for them but the next generation as well.

“The issue of students from private or from public schools has no difference. We are all fighting for our right to education. Wherever this road will take us, let us fight together until we achieve what’s right not only for the Filipino youth but the people as well,” Majan Lazo said, president elect of the UST AB Student Council. (http://bulatlat.com)

- See more at: http://bulatlat.com/main/2014/03/04/students-walk-out-of-classes-to-protest-impending-tuition-hike/#sthash.anfHU6Zk.dpuf




March 13, 2014
For Reference: Ms. France Castro, Secretary – General, 09204166441

Abolish National Achievement Test, it does not serve its purpose at all!

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers calls for the immediate abolition of the National Achievement Test (NAT) as complaints and reports on massive cheatings on its conducts were received by the teachers’ group.

“Ideally, NAT is designed to test the development and performance of the schools in the country. Results of this examination serve as guide for the Department in the formulation of programs and policies to further the standards of basic public education in the country. However, this is not happening right now. Teachers are forced to do “teach to test” to get the higher results during the conduct of NAT. They are forced because NAT results are used as a basis in allocation bonuses for the teachers and the school’s Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE),” said ACT Secretary – General Ms. France Castro.

Under the “teach to test,” teach students the things that are most likely to come out in the exams. Students were no longer taught the things that they need to know. “Because of the Performance-Based Bonus scheme introduced by BS Aquino, teachers are to receive bonus based on the school’s performance in the said exam,” added Ms. Castro.

“If the Department of Education and BS Aquino is really sincere in increasing the quality and standard of Philippine education, it is not through NAT or PBB that they can do this. The only way to have it done is through higher budgetary allocation to education wherein shortages in classrooms, equipment and facilities and by increasing teachers’ salary. Aside from decent and higher salary, there is a need for a better and comprehensive professional development program for them to continuously equip and further their knowledge and capacity to teach. Mechanisms such as NAT and PBB are nothing but schemes done to confuse us about the real solutions to the problem,” concluded Ms. Castro.




MARCH 10, 2014


Teachers decry meager budget for basic education

Despite getting the largest share of funds from the national budget of 2014, teachers say the budget for basic education in the Philippines is not even enough to supply a class with chalk that would last a school year.

In the General Appropriations Act of 2014, the Department of Education topped the national budget list with a P281.7 billion ($6.26 billion) allotment. Elementary teachers, however, said with 20.8 million students (Kinder: 1.78 million; Elementary: 13.3 million and High School: 5.7 million) all over the country, this amount is hardly sufficient.

Grade 5 English teacher Joy Martinez, who attended the celebration of International Women’s Day in Mendiola on March 8, said the budget for basic education remains dismal both for students and teachers alike. Martinez, who has been teaching at the Imelda Elementary Scholl in Malabon for two decades, said the entry level for teachers is P18,549 ($412) a month while those in service for a longer time get P2,000 to 3,000 ($44 to $66) more. This pay, Martinez said, is gross of tax, other government obligations and loans. She said her regular take home pay dwindles to a measly P3,800 ($84) a month.

Worse under Aquino government

Martinez said their situation has even worsened under the administration of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. “There has been no wage increase since Aquino stepped into power in 2010,” Martinez said. Their Performance Enhancement Incentive amounting to P10,000 ($222) a year has been slashed to P5,000 ($111) while their productivity pay of P2,000 ($44) a year was discontinued.
Meanwhile, the Aquino administration implements a Performance Based Bonus, which ranks elementary and secondary public schools on three criterion: their National Achievement Test rate, their dropout rate, and their liquidation of their Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE). Teachers from schools which rank 1 receives P35,000 ($777) per year while those from rank 3 schools receive P5,000 a year.

“These scheme is unfair especially to those who teach in far flung areas where schools scarcely have books, comfort room and other school supplies and where teachers are forced to handle two grade levels in each class,” Martinez lamented. These schools, Martinez added, will never have the chance to rank number one.

Added to these, Martinez said their chalk allowance is only at P1,000 ($22) per year as against the price of a box of chalk that cost P50 ($1.11) and would only last a week. Other educational devices such as manila papers, markers and visual arts, which are needed to enhance their teaching methods, are at the teachers’ cost.

With this predicament, Martinez said teachers are forced to have “side-lines” which would range from selling bread and candies in class during break time or accepting tutoring jobs after class or during weekends. Some try their luck elsewhere.


Grade 2 teacher Loel Naparato, 48, tried her luck and applied as a teacher in Washington after 19 years of teaching at the Old Balara Elementary School in Quezon City. In an interview with Bulatlat during the women’s march on March 8 in Mendiola, Naparato said she is in a daze right now. “I don’t know what to do,” she said while trying to fight her tears.

With a gross pay of P22,140 ($492) a month, Naparato said this is never enough for her three children whom she raises alone. On June 2012, she applied for a teaching post in Washington and spent almost P600,000 ($13,300) in agency and visa fees. After more than a year of processing her papers, Naparato found out on November 8, 2013 that the agency she applied to has closed shop and the owner now faces cases of illegal recruitment and syndicated estafa at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
Call for wage hike

Martinez, who served as spokesperson for ACT Teachers organization during the women’s march, urged the government to enact an across-the-board wage increase for teachers and non-teaching staff who, in fact, face layoff due to the government’s rationalization program.

Other aspects of the educational system need improvement. In a forum on the national budget at the University of the Philippines College of Law on February 27, Professor Leonor Briones of the civic group Social Watch said funding for education has to be increased even more. “While attention is focused on the K-12 program, other aspects of education for all need additional attention as well. Alternative Learning Systems need more support. Not all Filipinos have had the opportunity to go into the formal education system. Schools for Muslim children and indigenous peoples are needed to enhance their cultural heritage,” Briones said. (http://bulatlat.com)

- See more at: http://bulatlat.com/main/2014/03/10/teachers-decry-meager-budget-for-basic-education/#sthash.EhWaTqxj.dpuf




FEBRUARY 15, 2014
Is education at PUP still for the poor?

“Although the tuition has not increased, with the additional fees being imposed other than the miscellaneous fees we pay every enrollment, studying even at PUP is becoming more expensive.”

MAIN STORY | Education becoming more prohibitive as more schools to hike tuition, fees


MANILA – Paulo Mantua, 18, second year History major student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) is an only child. His mother works as a domestic worker, earning a measly income. That is why he enrolled at the PUP to be able continue his studies. But even then, Mantua said, PUP has becoming costly for students like him.

“Lately there are additional fees that were imposed by the school administration. Although the tuition has not increased, with the additional fees being imposed other than the miscellaneous fees we pay every enrollment, studying even at PUP is becoming more expensive,” Mantua told Bulatlat.com. Mantua is also a member of PUP’s student organization Sandigan ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Sambayanan (Samasa).

The PUP is a state-run university that has been a go-to school for the poor majority. “Students in our university are children of farmers, workers, and those who are from the informal sectors. Some of them came from the provinces also,” Mantua told Bulatlat.com.

But, Mantua said, because of the insufficient budget of the university, the school administration has to charge more fees to augment the funds of the university. According to Mantua, the fees he paid amounted to P500 ($11.10) during academic year 2012-2013; it now amounted to more than P700 ($15.54) for the second semester of academic year 2013-2014.

Fees, fees, fees

According to the National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP), since the budget for state universities and colleges are inadequate, school administrators have been trying to generate income by imposing different fees aside from miscellaneous fees.

For example, the sports development fee being collected by PUP increased from P97 ($2.15) to P150 ($3.33). Still, athletes of PUP are not being provided with uniforms. “The administration’s alibi is that the procurement is slow.” Mantua said the PUP main campus in Sta. Mesa, Manila alone is able to collect P21 million ($466,063.89) per year from the sports development fee.

The PE uniform fee amounting to P305 ($6.77) became mandatory for first year students in academic year 2013-2014.

“It is already the second semester and first year students have not yet received their uniforms. During our dialogue with the school administration we asked about the uniforms they just said there have been problems in the bidding process.”

The PUP also collects a Student Information System fee amounting to P225 ($4.99) per semester. PUP President Emanuel De Guzman reportedly said, during a consultation with the students in 2013, that the SIS is the university’s biggest income-generating project and thus will not be junked. The SIS is a system being used by PUP system wide students for online registration.

Students are also questioning the collection of other fees like Cultural fee amounting to P11 ($.24) and Alumni Insurance fee amounting to P8 ($.18).

Students in other colleges such as the College of Hospitality and Tourism Transportation Management pay an energy fee amounting to P800 ($17.75) per semester.

Higher tuition in Institute of Technology

The Institute of Technology at PUP charges a higher tuition of P250 ($5.55) per unit, according to Jess Ferrera, 21, fourth year Journalism student, vice president of the PUP Central Student Council and vice chairman of Student Council Assembly. A student of Institute of Technology pays at least P8,000 ($177.55) per semester. The Institute of Technology offers technical vocational courses of two to three years only.

“Students at this college are not rich and yet they pay a higher tuition. It is much like a private school being operated inside a state university,” she told Bulatlat.com in an interview.

Students in the college also pay a library fee amounting to P200 ($4.44) per semester. But according to Ferrera, there is no library in the said college.

With the exorbitant fees being imposed at the CCIS, Ferrera said, some students had to stop studying. But, according to Ferrera, this does not only happen at the CCIS. Ferrera said in their journalism class alone, 18 students have dropped out. She also expressed her fear that she may have to drop out too if the PUP continues to charge higher and more fees. Ferrera’s parents are both minimum wage earners. She has one sister who is studying at a private school.

“There is always the fear that maybe one day I may not be able to continue with my studies because education even in a public school like ours is getting expensive. But we know our right and we will fight for it,” she told Bulatlat.com. (http://bulatlat.com)

- See more at: http://bulatlat.com/main/2014/02/15/is-education-at-pup-still-for-the-poor/#sthash.KI2Qi33r.dpuf




He represents the teachers and non-teaching staff  in Congress:


Cong. Antonio Tinio

Representative, ACT Teachers Party-List
National Chairperson, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), 2002-2012
Member, Philippine House of Representatives, 2010-present

Antonio L. Tinio was born in Quezon City, Philippines, in 1970. He graduated from the University of the Philippines-Diliman with a B.A. in Comparative Literature, magna cum laude. He is a teacher by profession. From 1991 to 1995, he taught as an Instructor at the Department of English and Comparative Literature in the University of the Philippines-Diliman. He was also a Lecturer at the same university from 1995 to 2010 at the Departamento ng Filipino at Panitikan ng Pilipinas.

Tinio was a founding member of Congress of Teachers and Educators for Nationalism and Democracy, a national organization of teachers formed in 1994 committed to the struggle for genuine sovereignty and democracy in the Philippines. He became the National Campaign Coordinator of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), the largest non-traditional organization of teachers and education workers in the Philippines, in 1998 and served as its National Chairperson from 2002 until 2012.

As ACT Chairperson, Tinio was spokesperson for the organization’s numerous advocacies, including the rights and welfare of teachers and education workers and the struggle to uphold the people’s right to quality public education. With teachers and educators nationwide, he stood at the forefront of ACT’s successful campaigns to raise the salaries of teachers by P9,000, against onerous policies of the Government Service Insurance System, and for greater government subsidies for education. He was also active in promoting respect for human and trade union rights in the education sector.

Tinio is likewise an advocate of educators’ issues at the international level. He represented ACT at Education International’s World Congress (Berlin, 2007) and Asia-Pacific Conference (Bangkok, 2009), organized an international academic conference on the impact of neoliberal globalization on education (Taipei, 2009), and went on a cross-country speaking tour to raise awareness about the human rights situation in the Philippines (Canada, 2009).

In 2009, ACT Teachers Party-List was founded to bring the struggles of teachers and education personnel to Congress. As its founding member and National President, Tinio served on behalf of ACT Teachers as Member of the House of Representatives, filing bills and resolutions for the promotion and protection of the rights and welfare of teachers and educators, including substantial salary increases and adequate benefits, refund of illegal deductions made by GSIS, the protection of the right of suffrage of public school teachers serving as election inspectors, and regularization, to name a few. He continues being the genuine voice of teachers and educators, as elected Representative for ACT Teachers Party-List, on his second term in Congress.


16th Congress (as of Journal No. 11, 13 August 2013)
Agrarian Reform
Banks and Financial Intermediaries
Basic Education and Culture
Foreign Affairs
Government Enterprises and Privatization
Government Reorganization
Higher and Technical Education
Information and Communications Technology
Public Information
Suffrage and Electoral Reforms
Women and Gender Equality




Statement on the wave of teachers’ strikes and the World Teacher’s Day, October 5, 2013
Issued by the Office of the  Chairperson,
Jose Maria Sison
International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS)

On the occasion of World Teacher’s Day, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) extends its staunch and vigorous support to the hundreds of thousands of teachers in various countries who have been waging strikes for their economic rights, free quality education and academic freedom in the past several months. We cite the exceptionally militant mass struggles of the teachers of Mexico, Brazil, Paraguay, Kenya, Nigeria, Swaziland, Uganda, India, Greece, United Kingdom, Australia, the US and other countries from June 2013 onwards.

In Mexico, up to 70,000 teachers launched a two-month-long strike from early August to late September to protest the Peña Nieto government’s educational reform program, which the teachers reject because they are being unfairly penalized for the low quality of education and also because they see the program as a neoliberal push to weaken teachers’ union rights and gradually privatize the public educational system. The reform program, passed in December 2012, imposes mandatory performance exams and tighter discipline on teachers, who may then be denied raises and promotions or even fired en masse if their work is deemed substandard.

The striking teachers, who were led by the National Coordination of Education Workers (CNTE) and the Oaxaca locals of the umbrella National Union of Education Workers (SNTE), showed a high level of mass militancy by sustaining their strike for weeks, marching in their thousands to Mexico City, holding huge demonstrations together with students and other working people in 26 out of 31 provinces, staking a 40,000-strong campout at the capital’s Zócalo (central plaza), resisting violent police dispersal operations, and organizing a series of popular teachers’ summits to consolidate their unity.

In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, thousands of schoolteachers demanding higher salaries have been on strike for nearly two months now, and clashes between strikers and police undertaking brutal dispersal operations have broken out in recent days. The teachers’ union and City Hall remain deadlocked as the strikers reject Mayor Edoardo Paes’ measly salary proposals. Teachers in Sao Paulo and other Brazilian cities also participated en masse in the massive nationwide demonstrations earlier in July-August.

In Paraguay, teachers also participated in mass protests just this early October to oppose salary cuts due to absences during an earlier strike in July-August that the government had declared illegal. An earlier teacher’s strike demanded a higher retirement plan.  The low salaries and inadequate pensions have served to lower the standard of education and this is now used as pretext for the privatization of public schools.

As in Latin America, the continent of Africa has also been rocked by teachers’ strikes in past months. Still on-going after three months is the nationwide strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in Nigeria, while the country’s National Union of Teachers are poised to go on a sympathy strike to break the deadlock.  The ASUU’s demands include earned allowances and increases in the capital expenditure to universities.

The 200,000-strong Kenya National Union of Teachers won a tactical victory in its nationwide teachers strike, which started on June 25 and ended on July 17 after a new salary package was struck with the government. The struggle continues as the government has declared the strike illegal and has undertaken reprisal measures against the union.

During the same period, some 30% to 50% of schools in Swaziland were also paralyzed by teachers’ strikes, with the 9,000-strong Swaziland National Association of Teachers demanding a 4.5 percent increase to stave off the effects of inflation, while the national government refused to entertain any wage hikes. In September, primary and secondary school teachers in Uganda’s state-owned schools also waged a two-week nationwide strike to pursue their demand for salary increases.

In Greece, already hobbled by the Troika’s austerity measures, the Federation of Secondary Education State School Teachers (OLME) and four other public-sector unions under ADEDY (representing 800,000 civil service workers) launched a nationwide “rolling strike” from Sept. 16 to 20, and launched another 48-hour general strike until Sept. 26.

OLME protested the massive layoff of teachers in secondary education (20% reduction since June); closure or merger of 2,500 primary and secondary schools; suspension of 2,500 vocational teachers; compulsory transfer of 5,000 teachers; a new law that will turn senior high schools (lyceums) into hellish exam marathons that will cause huge dropouts; and deep cuts in public spending on education.

Even as we mark World Teacher’s Day, teachers’ unions are launching regional strikes in different areas of Great Britain to protest the UK government’s shift from a national pay framework for teachers and the introduction of the more repressive and anti-union performance-related pay. There are also recently concluded, ongoing, or still-unfolding teachers’ mass struggles—many of them in the form of strikes—in Australia, United States, and several countries in Asia.

As the global capitalist system curtails workers’ rights from all sides, it  erodes teachers’ rights to decent salaries, benefits, and tenure, and undermines their academic freedom. Anti-social fiscal priorities result in excessive tuition increases and inadequate services. The attacks on educators’ rights and impacts of the global crisis create domino effects on the entire educational system—deteriorating quality of education and school facilities, lower enrollment and higher dropout rates, and other distortions that aggravate inequalities in educational services—which invariably affect n the students and the broad masses of the people.

Throughout the world, teachers are waging their economic struggles in the general context  of the people’s political struggles against oppression and exploitation. Increasingly, teachers and their organizations become part of social movements that sharply oppose their governments’ role in implementing neoliberal policies of  the imperialist powers, in protecting the interests of their own expoliting classes, and in defaulting on their duty to uphold their people’s economic, political, social and cultural rights—including the right to universal access to education and to academic freedom.

The ILPS fully supports teachers and educators all over the world in their struggle for education rights, against state abandonment, against privatization and commercialization of education, and against ideas and research directed against the people. We welcome the fact that in recent years, teachers and other education workers have shown increased mass militancy in fighting for their sectoral rights and in reasserting their multifaceted role as a component of the broad people’s movement against imperialism.

The ILPS encourages teachers’ and other academe-based organizations to join country-level chapters of the League and to contribute to the activities of its Commission on Concern 11, which is focused on the rights of teachers, researchers, and other education personnel.

The ILPS and its member organizations support teachers and directly participate in campaigns and programs for basic reforms that ensure the universal availability of quality education at all levels, and that enhances the role of education in advancing the interests of the broad masses, not those of the imperialists and and oppressive and exploitative classes. In a truly democratic environment, teachers and educators can freely exercise their vocation and passion to educate the greatest number of students without fear or insecurity over their economic well-being. ###

Out-of-school street children take on the bad boys of the Palace