By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — It was not until I transferred my children to a public school did I see first hand the struggle of public school teachers to provide quality education to their students given the limited resources at their disposal. As front liners, teachers have to deal with lack of teaching materials, to make do with what is there just to be able to implement the K to 12 program of the Department of Education.
When classes for this year started last June 2, I saw how teachers tried hard to smile and greet parents and students despite the heat. One classroom I saw, which had 70 students, has no electric fan. I saw how teachers patiently explain to the parents about the sections and late enrollment.
During the parent-teacher meetings, the teachers asked parents to help them make their classroom more conducive to learning. The teacher asked parents for contributions for additional electric fans because the heat is unbearable.
The teachers also asked parents to make a bulletin board with designs that will be interesting for children.
I thought the expenses have ended once the classes began. But I was mistaken. For the first two weeks, we had to spend more than a hundred pesos for an electric fan and a bulletin board. I can afford this but how about those parents who are less fortunate? What if they have three children in school?
To save on the cost of photocopying, the teacher told parents that she will email or she will post in her Facebook page the pointers to review for the periodic exam. How about the parents who have no computer or do not know how to access the internet or do not have extra money to spend for the internet access?
The teachers said that based on their experience, students do not bring extra P5 ($.11) as contribution for photocopying test papers.
One teacher I interviewed for an article said half of her salary is spent for her teaching materials and decorating the classroom. Another said he spent more than half of his salary. “The research work, the internet access is another expense for me. The Department of Education does not provide teaching modules and trainings are not appropriate or attuned to what we need.”
Teachers who are sincere in giving quality education to Filipino children and the youth have to be creative to be able to cope because of government neglect even if they have been spending their salaries for the materials that should be provided by the government.
Test papers, electric fans, materials needed to decorate the classrooms are only few of the basic needs that are not being provided. The burden is being passed on to the teachers. The teachers, on the other hand, are forced to ask contributions from the parents because as they said, they can’t do it alone.
While I understand their situation, many parents are still complaining about the expenses. Some have been complaining directly to the school division office. Last year, the principal of the school where my children are currently enrolled said in one general PTA meeting, “If you have complaints please talk to me first. The teachers are being reprimanded by the division, kawawa naman sila.”
Last year’s slogan of DepEd for the celebration of teachers’ month is “My teacher, my hero.” Yes, they are heroes – not only of the students but also of the negligent government insensitive to the plight of the people and of the teachers who have been doing their very best to provide quality education to the students.
Despite the favor that they have been giving to the government, they are being denied of their call for a salary increase.
The teachers deserve a salary increase, especially now with the spikes in prices of basic commodities. If the teachers will spend their salaries for their teaching needs and their children’s education, will there be anything left for their food consumption, bills and other things that they have to pay?
The president of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers Benjie Valbuena said, single or married, with children or without children, their salaries are not enough to cover their needs. Valbuena said there is money for pork barrel, President Benigno S. Aquino III has P1 trillion ($22 billion) in discretionary funds and yet his administration claims that there is no budget for the increases in salaries of teachers.