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Overworked?

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As public school teachers await the full implementation of the Department of Education policy fully relieving them of administrative duties by the end of March, some public schools fear that they may lose their administrative officers (AOs), even during the transition period, due to the heavy workload they are due to inherit.

Citing a concern raised by a school principal in the Calabarzon region, the Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM 2) said in a statement that some of their AOs were on the brink of quitting their jobs because they were “already experiencing overwork.”

“Imagine, an administrative officer who used to work of one school will now have to do the work for two schools,” ECOM said, quoting the school head.

Asked whether the DepEd had already gotten wind of similar complaints, spokesperson Michael Poa said it had yet to receive formal reports on such cases.

DO No. 002, signed by Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte on January 26, defined administrative tasks as those “not directly related to teaching and academic learning” and were supposed to be performed by school heads and nonteaching staff. The intention of the DO was to unburden teachers of additional work so they could focus on teaching.

A 60-day transition period had been set in hope to provide enough time for the smooth turnover of administrative duties to appropriate school personnel. During the shift, schools should fill up vacancies for administrative personnel. Under the DO, expenses that the school may incur from hiring additional staff may be deducted from its maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) or alternative sources.

However, in its 398-page report issued last month, EDCOM said the current levels of budget are insufficient to fully cover the operating costs of public elementary and high schools.

The Teacher’s Dignity Coalition noted that the hiring of some 10,000 nonteaching staff in 2023 and 2024 was “not enough even if we deploy one personnel per school,” noting that there are over 47,000 public schools in the country.

As the DepEd is about to realize once more, the gap between intent and execution is often a cavernous one. The order to unburden teachers with administrative tasks so they can focus on teaching is well intentioned, but without the proper support and funding for the personnel who will take on that task, the problem will not go away with just a signature on a piece of paper. Getting the resources in place so the quantity and quality of the country’s public school teachers and administrative officers match the need and amount of work to be done is another story.*

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