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Saturday, August 4, 2018

DepEd urged to reduce teachers’ workload

Teachers groups are appealing to the Department of Education (DepEd) to address their workload concerns by reducing the “clerical tasks” of teachers and prevent them from suffering various “physical and mental health” issues.

The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines, in separate statements, urged DepEd to review its policy on the workload of public school teachers to spare them from being “too exhausted.”

TDC said that it has been calling the attention of Secretary Leonor Briones since she became DepEd Secretary in July 2016. “Please liberate our teachers from clerical tasks and burden of lesson preparation,” the group appealed.

By doing so, TDC said that more teachers will remain on their posts. “We will ensure their efficient and effective teaching, we could guarantee their physical and mental health and most of all, they will face everyday teaching full of enthusiasm and passion,” the group added.

Meanwhile, ACT Philippines said that teachers’ workload “has become more and more burdensome over the years” due to the “implementation of policies that demand greater effort and non-implementation of those that secure ample rest have wrung the labor power out of our mentors’ beings.”

Tired, overworked teachers

For TDC, DepEd should reduce the “clerical tasks of public school teachers by allowing the use of a simplified lesson log.”

They are also asking Briones to “halt the implementation” of DepEd Order No. 42, s. 2016 or the Policy Guidelines on Daily Lesson Preparation for the K-12 Basic Education Program issued by former DepEd Secretary Br. Armin Luistro.

“We stand by the fact that the more detailed the lesson plan is, the more the teachers become unproductive because they have to spend an overnight just to comply with the requirements of a ‘good’ lesson plan,” TDC said. Given this, the group said that teachers are more “exhausted during the most important part of teaching- classroom instruction.” The group also noted that “only lesson preparation is directly related to classroom teaching” but it does not mean “that teachers should be burdened with lesson preparation.”

Meanwhile, ACT Philippines cited several reasons “why teachers are overworked.” In particular, the group noted the “pathetic number of education support staff.” The group noted that the bulk of workload on teachers is brought about by the abolition of thousands of non-teaching items which “shrank further the already scant number” of education support staff. “As such, our teachers are forced to wear a variety of hats in school—registrar, clerk, librarian, nurse, guidance coordinator, custodian, security guard, and janitor,” ACT said.

Other reasons why teachers are overworked, ACT said, can be attributed to basic education shortages that were “worsened” by continued implementation of the K to 12 program; the “taxing K to 12 Curriculum in outcomes-based education framework with lacking instructional and learning materials”; the “oppressive result-based framework in evaluation and performance-based bonuses and benefits”; and the “non-implementation of 84 days proportional vacation pay and 10-day restriction on service credits.”

“These difficult conditions take a toll on our teachers. It is high time that the government recognizes that teachers are human beings that are entitled to basic labor rights,” ACT said noting that more and more teachers “suffer from exhaustion and work-related” illnesses. “The need to be liberated from such oppressive policies and inhumane working conditions is urgent and imperative,” it added.

Teachers, according to TDC, are also required “to accomplish requirements to earn points in the new performance evaluation system,” conduct and attend “required researches, seminars and other assignments” while others are “even assigned in canteens, feeding programs, community linkages and other ancillary services.”

Help prevent depression, suicide

Both groups also attributed the heavy workload of teachers to cases of depression and even suicide.

“With two recent suicide cases attributed to extremely tiring workloads, the DepEd must, once and for all, review its policies on teachers’ working condition,” TDC said. The group noted that in 2017, a teacher from Bicol “reportedly hanged self after a series of complaints regarding lesson plans.”

In July, the group also received a report that another teacher from Leyte died by suicide. “The reason, according to her close friends is the burden she had to endure every day,” TDC said. Teaching multi-grade in a barrio school, TDC said that “the newly-hired teacher needs to prepare at least 24 lesson plans daily to comply with the requirements of her work.”

“Before the suicide incident in Leyte, there were already reports of teachers who got sick and even hospitalized,” TDC said. “Still, some chose to leave the system and their dreamed vocation behind and resigned,” the group added.

Meanwhile, ACT is also grieving the “demise” of some of their colleagues. “While some would argue that they have their own circumstances, there is no denying that, in one way or another, their working conditions have something to do with their untimely deaths,” the group said. “In any profession, work condition is a major factor to one’s physical and psychological well-being,” it added.

Before it’s too late

The teachers groups urged the DepEd and the government to implement interventions to address the workload issues of teachers and ensure their welfare “before it’s too late.”

TDC lamented that the teachers in the country remain “underpaid” with their salaries way below their Asian counterparts. “Worse, the pay is not commensurate to their roles, tasks, and functions- to their supposed social status,” the group said. To prevent teachers from being “overworked,” TDC noted that need to eliminate the “tasks are not so related to teaching.”

For ACT, the government has to do “some serious rethinking about the K to 12 program” as obviously, “it does more harm to the teachers, the students, and the nation than good.” The group also called on the DepEd to junk policies that “deprive teachers of sufficient rest” and implement “affirmative actions should be done to bring dignity to the teaching profession.”

As the Congress deliberates on the 2019 national budget, ACT said that “sufficient budget should be allotted to address the shortages in the education system” – particularly the need for more education support staff, more teacher positions, ample allocations for maintenance and other operating expenses to fill in the deficiencies in facilities, equipment, and materials.

“Most importantly, teachers should be justly compensated for their work’s worth,” ACT said. “Enough budget should be allotted for a substantial salary increase, benefits, and promotion [of teachers],” the group ended.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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