“Teachers are bringing work to their house, which takes away their time not only for themselves but also for their family.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Following the reported suicide of public school teachers, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Philippines (ACT) once again called on the Department of Education (DepEd) to halt the implementation of the Results-Based Performance Management System (RPMS).
However, a statement released by the Department last Sept. 24 said that it could not arbitrarily order its suspension as it was “legally implemented.” It added that the RPMS policy is important to deliver quality education.
But how much workload do public school teachers have to bear in order to comply with the policy?
For Wilhelmina Vibar, 50, teachers are spending 80 percent of their time in accomplishing the requirements for RPMS and performing non-teaching tasks. This would mean squeezing time for making lesson plans, checking test papers, compute grades, mentoring co-teachers, encoding students’ name in the learning information system online and making reports requested by the administration, among others.
The remaining 20 percent is their time for family and for herself.
Vibar is a public school teacher for 18 years. She is currently teaching Science at Acacia Elementary School in Malabon City. She said in her heart and mind, she wanted to be a teacher.
“There is a fulfillment in teaching,” she told Bulatlat in an interview.
She said although teaching can be frustrating and exhausting, there is always contentment in knowing that the children learned from them. “When a student performs well in class, it’s really a good feeling,” she said.
Compliance in RPMS is taxing
Vibar described the tasks nowadays as exhausting than before. She said that it is so taxing that it came to a point that she almost gave up.
“Before, teachers were focused on teaching children. Now, we have to comply with other requirements of DepEd on top of other non-teaching tasks that we do,” she said.
Under DepEd Order No. 2 series of 2015 or guideline on the establishment and implementation of RPMS, teachers are required to submit their Individual Commitment and Review Form (IPCRF) for performance evaluation. Vibar said compliance to the IPCRF necessitates compilation of forms with attachments such as test papers, daily lesson plans, instructional materials, pictures, reports and certificates – or practically everything that they do in class and other school activities.
It is becoming taxing when teachers also have to prepare for the next days or so of classes and class observation made by officials of school division and school administration.
“We also do home visitation if a student is not coming to class for days. We also serve as guidance counselor of our class. We also have to take care of students’ deworming, vaccination, feeding program and monitor their compliance to the conditional cash transfer program. Even disaster preparation,” Vibar said.
There is also a demand for public school teachers to be innovative in their teaching. However, they shell out for equipment needed for innovation like projector or smart TV. “It is good if the local government has the capacity to provide or even DepEd. But mostly it is the teachers who shoulder the expenses,” she said adding that while there is a need to innovate, it would be difficult without the national government’s support like spending enough budget for the education sector.
Joselyn Martinez, newly-elected chairperson of ACT emphasized the need of teachers for quality time for themselves to regain strength from a day’s work. But with the additional workload and requirements, teachers have less time for themselves.
“Teachers are bringing work to their house, which takes away their time not only for themselves but also for their family,” said Martinez in an interview with Bulatlat.
Martinez cited the recent case of Shannen Espino, the 23-year old Kindergarten teacher who took her life allegedly due to heavy workload.
According to ACT officials who visited the wake in Bacoor, Cavite, Espino was teaching two classes a day from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with eight different subjects. She prepares eight different lesson plans per day, eight different logs and eight different worksheets. Her lunch break is spent in the Principal’s office for tasks assigned to her. She also underwent three to four class observations since she started last June. Class observations are being conducted to comply with the Philippine Professional Standards for Teachers (PPST) also brought about by the RPMS.
Martinez said this is the fourth documented suicide of public school teachers.
Although there is no direct evidence to connect the reported suicide to heavy workload but, Martinez said, the dire working condition in public schools could really be stressful and could aggravate the state of their mental health.
Add to that the RPMS that measures their performance, which, she said, could really take a toll on teachers.
“Teachers need to do their best amid the lack of support from the government. We are short in our finances and yet we still need to shell out for instructional materials. We need to comply with the requirements and other tasks with so little time. So teachers are really pressured especially the newly hired ones,” she said.
Meanwhile, Vibar said old teachers are also forced to resign simply because they could not cope with the demands.
For Vibar, the DepEd has never been aware of the teachers’ condition on the ground. She said, quality of education can be achieved with full support from the government not merely by measuring teachers’ competencies.