Salary increase is the main concern of teachers in Davao

(PNA file photo)

THE CITY OF DAVAO – Teachers here are asking for a pay rise, saying they will be more effective in their jobs if they have one less problem to worry about.

In an interview over the weekend, Merry, a primary school teacher from Samal’s Island Garden City, said it’s a sad reality that they have to hang out with loan sharks, both to join both ends and for the work itself.

“We tend to accept their offer as we also use it for the betterment of the class and sometimes for the learners,” Merry told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Wheng, a public school teacher here, said some teachers lacked financial literacy and readily accepted loan offers unaware of the high interest rates.

“An increase in the salary level would help a lot. DepEd should also hire more capable teachers and allow for early retirement for 50 year olds,” she added.

Wheng said school-related beautification is one of the factors teachers resort to loans for.

“Not all materials have been covered by the maintenance budget and other operating expenses as there are many school concerns and priorities being handled by the MOOE,” she added.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, Wheng said some teachers resorted to loans to buy laptops, printers and other materials needed for student-learner modules.

“There is also the internet connection that we really need. Yet another extra expense on our part,” she added.

Presumed Vice President Sara Duterte, the new Secretary for the Department of Education (DepEd), has expressed concern about teachers in deep debt, particularly to loan sharks within the agency.

“This is the sad reality of our teachers. I saw it when I was mayor of Davao City,” Duterte said in an interview Friday.

Duterte pointed out that such a dilemma affects the quality of work.

“How do you expect teachers to work religiously if they are faced with such a problem? she says.

Re-elected Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Basic Education, Arts and Culture Committee, has proposed raising the salary of Teacher I from Grade 12 (PHP25,439) to Grade 13 (PHP29 ,798) or the 14th (PHP32,321 ).

Merry said that aside from loans, a teacher also becomes ineffective when non-teaching duties pile up.

“Teachers can’t just focus on teaching,” Merry said.

Sandee, a public school teacher in Davao de Oro, said she hoped to cut attendant services and the many reports and assessments.

She cited “Brigada Eskwela” (School Brigade) as a good project, but stressful for most of them.

This is a nationwide voluntary effort between teachers, parents, students, community members and other organizations to beautify schools in preparation for the school year.

“We are forced to shell out our own money when preparing for our classroom assessment,” Sandee said, but thanked parents and other donors for helping out during the competition itself.

Teachers are optimistic, however, that once the pandemic is over, things will be easier for everyone.

“We expect the next head of DepEd to address our concerns,” Sandee said. (NAP)

William M. Mayer