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Teachers’ coalition urges gov’t to expedite hiring of displaced teachers

A coalition of teachers on Saturday urged the government to expedite the hiring of displaced private school teachers amid expected exodus of students from private schools to public schools due to the economic fallout from COVID-19 pandemic.

At a virtual forum, Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) secretary-general Emelyn Policarpio enumerated the demands of teachers, among which is to hasten the process of hiring displaced teachers.

“Madaliin ang proseso ng pag-hire sa displaced private school teachers dahil napakaraming mga bata ang lumipat sa pampublikong paaralan at napakalaki po ng class size na dapat ay mas paliitin dahil iba nga po ang paraan ng pagtuturo sa kasalukuyan,” Policarpio said.

Under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2, around P300 million is allocated for hiring displaced teachers and non-teaching personnel as the Department of Education said that some 400 private schools are at risk of closure due to lack of enrollees amid the pandemic.

The TDC also called for health benefits for teachers and non-teaching personnel as well as hazard pay for the skeletal workforce.

The teachers’ group, likewise, asked the government for internet allowance for those who will be working from home and be provided with necessary materials, equipment needed for distance teaching and learning.

Policarpio said the DepEd should focus on making unified quality modules and equip teacher-broadcasters and their teams with necessary skills.

“‘Wag mag multi-tasking. Hiwalay po ang actors, writers, researchers, editors, technicians at iba pang bihasang guro sa larangan ng video-making and live-streaming para nakatutok sa kung ano ang dapat gawin,” she said.

“Sigurihin ang maayos na kalagayan emosyunal at mental ng guro, mag aaral at magulang. Mag-hire ng professional guidance counselors dahil kailangang kailangan po ito,” she added.

For her part, Senator Risa Hontiveros, who participated in the online forum, cited the hardships experienced by teachers and students, who are struggling to adopt to the proposed distance-learning through the use of mobile devices.

“Noong nakaraang araw lang, kumalat sa social media ang isang hinaing ng guro na si Rejohn Modesto. Sabi niya, ‘Ilang araw na akong umiiyak. Hindi lang sa pagod kundi sa pagod sa pag-akay ng mga estudyante kong naghihikahos’,” Hontiveros said.

“Dagdag pa dito, nakilala rin natin sa isang trending na balita si Ma’am Lisa, 65 anyos, na habang naglalako ng paninda ay may placard na hawak na private school teacher siya pero nawalan ng trabaho dahil sa COVID-19,” the senator said.

“Nakakapanlumo ang mga kwentong ito. Hindi makatarungan na ito ang dinadanas ng ating mga guro at ng ating mga estudyante sa harap pa ng isang pandemya,” she added.

In a separate statement, Commission on Human Rights spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said the challenges faced by teachers have compounded due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is crucial to invest in the protection, training, and professional development of teachers so they are fully equipped to respond to the new landscape of education in this period of pandemic. Our country puts high premium to education but this must also be translated to the value and compensation we accord our educators,” De Guia said.

“Teachers are instrumental in fulfilling the potential of the youth. Despite current uncertainties, young people move forward to the future equipped with essential skills and knowledge acquired through the commitment of teachers. In one way or another, teachers have contributed in our pursuit of a life of quality and dignity. Salutations and utmost gratitude to all Filipino teachers!” De Guia said. -MDM, GMA News