As Tuesday marked the start of the month-long celebration of National Teachers’ Month, a group of teachers called on public officials to ditch the “empty” praises and instead deliver their long overdue benefits mandated by law.
According to a press release from the office of Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte, this year’s celebration is themed “Together4Teachers” and the aim is to honor Filipino teachers “who are partners in building a patriotic and child-friendly nation.
However, in the words of Teachers Dignity Coalition Chairperson Benjo Basas, “As always, expect an oversupply of platitudes from ghostwriters paid for by politicians using taxpayers’ money. Elected officials never miss opportunities like this to have their names ringing in our ears, enough to last till the next election.”
“We are going to hear, yet again, sweet words praising teachers for their sacrifices and heroic deeds,” he added.
Basas pointed out that in reality, benefits mandated by the 50-year-old Magna Carta for Public School, such as staggered pay increases and a 60-day rest period between school years, has yet to be implemented in full.
“In the meantime, teachers’ long-overdue salary increases remain a dangling carrot at the end of a stick, with no hope of getting serious attention as they slice the pie called the education budget,” Basas said.
“Teachers’ health benefits are no closer to lawmakers’ minds than they were over half a century ago, when a few good men birthed the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers,” he added.
The teachers’ group added that while it appreciates the celebration of the teachers’ month as it “reminds us of the nobleness of the teaching profession,” the government must also invest in teachers to ensure a robust nation.
As the nation celebrates National Teachers’ Month, let us take time to not only appreciate their efforts, but also educate ourselves of the struggles of Filipino teachers, and how we can support them by putting pressure on public officials who can improve their situation, which ultimately benefits the country’s educational system. Perhaps it is time for this nation and its leaders to go beyond the empty praises and deliver what has been promised and is due for the teachers who are responsible for forming the country’s youth, and by extension, its future.*