by Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star), Sept 7, 2019
MANILA, Philippines — The government will give away free fries, discounted museum tickets, marked-down eyeglasses and various other perks to public and private school teachers during this Teachers’ Month amid a continuing clamor for substantial salary increase.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones yesterday lauded teachers for their continued commitment to educating Filipino students in time for the fourth industrial revolution.
“In this digital age, we put a premium on the crucial role of teachers as guides, managers and listeners amid technological innovations and other emerging trends in education,” she added.
As tokens of gratitude, the Department of Education (DepEd) said teachers will be entitled to different perks offered by different companies throughout or on selected dates during Teachers’ Month.
Teachers’ organizations, however, lamented that these are far from what educators have continuously been asking for from the government – substantial salary increase and full implementation of policies that would improve their welfare.
Instead, teachers will get free fries courtesy of Jollibee Foundation for every purchase of any value meal from Oct. 4 to 6, while they get discounted rates at BenCab Museum in Baguio (P100 entrance fee from Sept. 5 to Oct. 5) and Executive Optical (20 percent off on complete eyeglass package, period to be announced).
Filipino teachers can also take part in free webinars offered by Microsoft every Saturday of October, as well as avail themselves of the Teacher’s Treat promo of Enchanted Kingdom (P700 Park and AGILA ticket, with free souvenir and skill game coupons from Sept. 5 to Oct. 6).
Other perks include free entrance at the Manila International Book Fair (Sept. 11 to 15) and to Museong Pambata along with two companions (with limited free gifts to teachers, five percent discount at museum shops from Sept. 5 to Oct. 5).
PhilPost will also organize the “Salamat Po Teacher” letter writing competition for public kindergarten to Grade 12 students.
But as DepEd gears up for the official launch of National Teachers Month on Monday, members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) staged a protest action to highlight the demands of teachers for a decent salary increase.
“Teachers’ month coincides yearly with the budget deliberation in Congress,” said ACT chair Joselyn Martinez.
“There is therefore no better time for our government to prove its sincere regard for education workers than now by heeding our long-time call for a substantial salary increase,” she added.
Martinez said the P31-billion proposal for the pay hike of government workers next year would not be enough, noting that it would only amount to about P1,845 per month if the budget is equally distributed among 1.2 million government workers.
“This is why we, together with the Salary Increase Solidarity Network, have been relentlessly pursuing lawmakers in an effort to strengthen our unity with them in pushing for legislation of a substantial salary increase measure,” she added.
A nationally coordinated protest action will be held on World Teachers’ Day on Oct. 5 to call for better compensation and government prioritization of teachers, said Martinez.
Benjo Basas, chairman of the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC), urged DepEd to celebrate Teachers’ Month by delivering on its mandate to protect and promote their rights and welfare.
“What we need are policies that would make the teaching profession attractive to the best available talents and guarantee a dignified living for our teachers. That is what our Constitution says,” he said.
Aside from supporting the P10,000 per month salary hike for all teachers, the group called on DepEd to fully implement the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, including provisions on overtime pay, medical benefits and hospitalization and salary increase upon retirement, among others.
It also called for the review and amendments to the policies on teachers’ clerical work, establishment of reasonable and responsive merit and promotion system, creation of a mechanism for faster conflict resolution in the field and the allocation of more funds for teaching aids.
“Teachers’ Month celebration is about us, teachers. Our rights, welfare and dignity should be primarily considered,” said Basas.