Ang Bayan
June 21, 2019

The woeful plight of teachers

The woeful plight of teachers was once again highlighted when a picture of a toilet-turned-faculty room circulated in social media on the first week of June. The picture portrays what teachers and workers in the education sector have long endured such as shortages of classrooms, teaching aids and other teaching materials.

Due to the lack of funds, teachers often shoulder the costs of teaching aids like chalk. But worse than this is the low wages that teachers are made to endure, which the state and even its Department of Education (DepEd) secretary Leonor Briones insist as “sufficient.”

Extremely inadequate salary

Since his campaign, Dutete has promised nine times to raise teachers’ salaries. But up to now, this remains unfullfilled as he prioritized raising police and soldiers’ salaries. He also increased his own salary by 200%.

Presently, a teacher’s salary is only at P20,000-P22,000/month. Deducting taxes, loan payments and others, teacher is left with a meager P5,000 as take home pay. Teachers complain that almost half of their salaries are spent on water and electricity bills. They stretch whatever is left for food and medicines. Because of this, are often left with no choice but to borrow cash from the Government Service Insu­rance System (GSIS), loan institutions and loan sharks.

Data by the DepEd indicate that the collective debt of teachers ballooned by P18 billion in just two years—from P301 billion in 2017 to P319 billion this year.

Almost half of this amount was loaned from the GSIS while P162 billion was loaned from private institutions. This figure does not include loans from loan sharks. Payment for GSIS and other loan istitutions are automatically deducted from a teacher’s salary until the loan is fully paid.

The ACT Teachers Party has long called for raising the entry level salary of teachers to P30,000/month. The group estimates that this amount is sufficient for a family of five.

Ibon Foundation estimates indicate that the state only needs to levy a 30% tax on individuals earning P50 million up to fund the needed increase. This measure can raise up to P400 billion/year which is even higher than the budgetary requirement for the P10,000/month wage increase which is at P150 billion/year. This will affect only the 38,000 richest individuals or 0.04% of the nation’s population, the group said.