Press Release
March 21, 2008


Citing the pitiful condition of public school teachers in the elementary and secondary levels, Senator Edgardo J. Angara called for upgrading the minimum salaries of public school teachers from Grade 10 to 19, which corresponds to almost a P6,000 extra income in their monthly basic salaries.

"Teachers are the unsung heroes of our time. They are considered the heart of our educational system. In reality, they are overworked, and yet the most underpaid, unprivileged and unappreciated in our society," Angara said.

He noted that a new teacher in a public school receives only P10,000 excluding withholding taxes. "Most of the teachers have net take home pay of less than five thousand pesos because of deductions from their loans. In addition to this, there are usual deductions made such as Government Service Insurance Premiums, withholding taxes, PhilHealth contributions, among others," Angara said.

Angara said that back in 1991, the Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM) had recommended upgrading the minimum salary levels of teachers from Grade 10 to 17 only. He said, however, that the increase needs to be more significant given the increase in the cost of living today.

"In our country, there seems to be no promising career path for teachers, with unattractive rewards, heavy teaching loads, jam-packed classrooms, lack of opportunities for growth and even unemployment for many of them," he explained.

"By increasing our teachers' salaries, more qualified and competent educators will be attracted to teach in public schools instead of leaving the country and their families to teach abroad."

He explained that an increase in teachers' salaries will greatly help motivate our teachers strive for excellence in their field and improve the quality of education in public schools, and also lessen the exodus of our best teachers to foreign countries.

Angara also called for granting additional benefits to the dependents of teachers such as the right to scholarship grants, free medical examination and treatment, and pension plans in case of disability. He also encouraged public school teachers to form cooperatives to help promote their economic welfare.

Angara said that the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers was a landmark piece of legislation which provided for the development and protection of educators' welfare. However, he said, the Magna Carta failed to provide benefits to the dependents of teachers.

"On top of falling short of benefits to the dependents of educators, we also now have to face the staggering number of teachers leaving the country to teach abroad," Angara said. "The irony of the situation is that in a country whose math and science teaching is deteriorating, we are not doing anything to keep our teachers from fleeing the country en masse to teach these key disciplines in other places."

Angara said that around 32,000 Filipinos working as domestics in Hong Kong, Singapore and Middle East were teachers or at least had some background on teaching.

"Unless more drastic measures are taken to train the remaining teachers, we may soon find ourselves in a deep intellectual void," Angara stressed.

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