Pay hike for public school teachers long overdue

News Release
06 October 2014

Last pay hike for mentors was in 2009 – Sen. Pia

Senator Pia S. Cayetano today said an increase in the salaries of the country’s 520,000 public school teachers is long overdue, noting that the last pay adjustment for our educators was implemented five years ago in 2009.

“We always say that the youth is our country’s hope, but who is preparing our youth for the future? Their fundamental education starts in the school, with our teachers. But are our teachers well compensated? Are they well cared for?” asked Cayetano, who chairs the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture.

She said upgrading the salaries of teachers would help them cope with the rising cost of living and boost government efforts to encourage young, bright college graduates to pursue a career in teaching.

“Historically, there are studies showing that the salaries of teachers have fallen behind compared to other professions. Yes, there was a substantial adjustment in 2009, but the law also requires Congress to review these salary grades every three years. It’s now 2014, but no review has been conducted, and so it is high time that we take up this issue,” she explained.

“Our Constitution also states that the biggest amount of funding should go to education and that we should attract the best and brightest students to become teachers. But in order to attract them, we should also be ready to offer them competitive salaries.”

The senator recently led a joint public hearing on 11 Senate bills seeking to increase salaries and benefits for public school teachers and non-teaching education personnel. Held on October 1, the hearing revealed that the entry level monthly salary for public school teachers has been pegged at P18,549 since 2009.

The hearing was attended by officials from the Department of Education (DepEd) and representatives from teachers’ groups, non-teaching personnel, and education experts.

But no representative was present from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) which prompted Cayetano to remark at one point, “The proposal must be carefully studied and must come from all sectors concerned. But it seems this issue is not a major concern for the DBM because they are not here.”

The senator acknowledged that any pay hike for public educators must be weighed against the government’s overall expenditures and carefully studied to minimize distortions in the Salary Standardization Law (SSL), making the DBM’s inputs to the hearings crucial.

It was also revealed during the hearing by University of the Philippines (UP) College of Education Dean Dr. Rosario Alonzo that a number of their graduates do not go into teaching but choose to find employment in call centers instead, where salaries are much higher.

“We will study all eleven versions,” said Cayetano. “There are bills proposing an across-the-board hike and there are those pushing for a salary grade upgrade. We should study which would be more practical and which would allow us to achieve our immediate goal which is to help our full-time teachers in the lowest salary grades who need the increase most. In the end, we would not be able to please everyone but we hope to address the needs of the majority.”

“There is also a need to consider other factors in light of the K-to-12 program. We should look at the compensation of teachers who are required to have additional training, including those who will teach in Senior High, and those who teach Physics and Mathematics. Incentives should be considered for those teaching posts also.”

“And then of course, there is a need to look into the compensation of our instructors in State Universities Colleges and (SUCs). Their entry level is Salary Grade Level 12, which is just one level higher compared to the entry level of basic education teachers which is Salary Grade 11. All these things have to be considered and so we will just have a few more hearings, collate the data, and pass a committee report.” #

Photo: At the Senate, Senators Pia S. Cayetano and Sonny Angara receive a petition signed by members of the Teachers Dignity Coalition calling for a legislated pay hike for public school teachers and non-teaching personnel.

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