New year, old woes for teachers
As classes open today after more than two weeks of holiday break, the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) enumerated some problems that they predict will continuously haunt public school teachers and the education sector for the coming year.
Kidnapped teacher in Zamboanga. The vicious kidnapping cycle in the South strikes again before Christmas. A young female teacher from Sibugtoc Elementary School in Zamboanga City was snatched by several armed men on December 18. The poor teacher and other colleagues were on their way to report for an event in the city proper, clearly, in line of official duty.. Kidnapping of teachers in Zamboanga Peninsula Region has been rampant in the past years, yet the government always failed to provide security or hazard pay for teachers in this and other conflict areas.
Delayed Comelec payment. The Comelec last week announced that the DBM approved their request to provide additional P300.00 honorarium for teachers who served in the board of election tellers (BET) during Barangay elections in October 28 (and November 28 in Bohol and Zamboanga City), a good sign. However, believe it or not, many teachers in some areas including the cities of Quezon, Makati and Olongapo and the devastated town of Palo in Leyte have not received their P500.00 transportation allowance until now.
Taxes on bonuses and salaries. Teachers from the provinces complained that their productivity enhancement incentive (PEI) were deducted of tax, just as the productivity based-bonus (PBB) which the allocation for 2012 only given last August 2013. Teachers were surprised that in some localities, taxes were imposed ranging from 10 to 30% of their bonus, which according to the BIR is guaranteed by the law. Another issue with the BIR is the sudden change of tax code of some teachers, specifically in Malabon City that become a heavy burden to them. In some schools for example, those that are normally being charged of tax amounting to P3, 000.00 to P4, 000.00 paid up to more than P10, 000.00 last November and December 2013. The taxman (taxwoman, actually) vowed to collect every peso entitled to the government, however, nobody is keeping an eye on where these taxes go. The year 2013 was a witness to robbery of taxpayers’ money in great scales.
No increase in salary. The government’s budget for this year has not reflected the increase in salaries for its employees. That means, the salary would maintain its 2012 status until next year and it is not even sure if the government would provide a pay increase for FY 2015. Thus, materials for the third year of implementation of K-12 will be shouldered again by teachers from their meager salaries. It is interesting to note that the DepEd does not provide for text books for the use of students and teachers in accordance with the new curriculum, instead poor mentors are expected to download e-copy of resource materials for printing and reproduction.
Situation of teachers in Yolanda-affected areas. And perhaps the greatest challenge will still be confronted by the teachers in Yolanda-hit areas. No classrooms, no electricity, no chairs and blackboards, not even chalk and erasers were spared by the monster typhoon. Teachers in the area, like all other residents will have to start from zero. Until now, they are seeking the help of the government, but while employees of other agencies have already received cash and assistance for house rebuilding, public school teachers rely on their own. Yet they are in the forefront of rehabilitation and they provide strength for the whole community especially children. The only help teachers, especially in Leyte received from the DepEd are lipsticks, make-up kits, free haircut and minimal relief packages. And worth mentioning are the loan packages from GSIS, Pag-Ibig and Provident Fund, while they said what they really need is a cash grant, if not, a tax break or moratorium of all mandated deductions in their salaries that will surely benefit them and would reduce the impact of the deluge in their families.
The TDC on Saturday has launched the Project PAG-ARAM, An initiative to raise school supplies for children and materials for teachers in Yolanda-affected areas.
Pag-aram is a Waray term which means ‘learning’ or ‘to learn’ and the project’s main objective is to provide the school needs of students and teachers in typhoon Yolanda-affected areas of Eastern Visayas, Northern Cebu, Northern Panay and Northern Palawan. The project, which will be done in close coordination with the field offices of the DepEd, aims to collect as many donations as possible from schools, students, teachers, parents, individuals and organizations.
Materials such as pens, notebooks, school bags, shoes, crayons for kids and chalk, eraser, manila paper, cartolina, markers, record book, lesson plan book and improvised blackboard for teachers collected during the first week of January will be distributed in Leyte on January 15. However, the secretariat will accept donations up to May 30, 2014.
Reference: Benjo Basas, National Chairperson 0920-5740241/ 3853437
January 6, 2014
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