School teachers greeted the new school year with protest actions against what they call an “indifferent” Rodrigo Duterte administration that has abandoned the education sector amid a raging coronavirus crisis.
In a “sunrise protest” before the first day of classes this year, members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) trooped to Mendiola Bridge in Manila to denounce “government neglect and utter disregard of teachers and students’ welfare.”
“Today, we will be forced into another school year of underfunded and ill-equipped distance learning, with no plans from the government on how it can safely re-open our school nor on how it will address the grave issues hounding DepEd’s (Department of Education) learning continuity plan,” the group said in a statement.
The teachers said the government failed to address for the second consecutive year their demand for the safe re-opening of schools and bigger state support for distance learning needs.
ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said teachers bore the brunt of the shift to remote learning when the pandemic hit last year, forcing them to remain “overworked, underpaid, and under-supported.”
Basilo added the DepEd continue to ignore their demands for overtime pay and service credits, Php1,500 monthly internet allowance, Php3,000 inflation adjustment allowance, hazard pay, and their overdue upgrading to salary grade 15 and other benefits to offset the additional hardships they endured because of the shift to online teaching mode.
In earlier “laptop protests,” teachers posted their photos collating printed modules for distribution to parents and students today they said should have been the responsibility of DepEd Central had it adequately prepared for the new school year.
The teachers also complained they themselves have to spend from their own pockets to enough teaching materials for the projected 20 million students to be enrolled this year.
“As state abandonment peaks, we have no one else to turn to but each other. The future of our youth and their right to accessible quality education now lies on the collective resolve of teachers, parents, and students to say ‘no more’ and demand better,” Basilio said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)