Free college education for public school teachers’ children sought

A lawmaker is seeking to grant free college education to a dependent child of a public school teacher.

Rep. Antonio Tinio (Party-list, ACT Teachers), Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture, authored House Bill 4077 to address the sad plight of the public school teachers.

“In spite of the enactment of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers in 1966, teachers have been waiting in vain for the benefits intended to somehow ease their hardships,” Tinio said.

“By shouldering the educational expenses of a teacher’s child, the government shall provide substantial economic relief for teachers, give due recognition to their dedication and hard work and enhance the status of the teaching profession,” Tinio said.

The measure seeks to uplift the economic condition of public school teachers through the provision of a non-wage benefit in the form of free tuition and other fees for their dependent children who are admitted to public post-secondary education institutions.

The bill exempts a public school teacher’s dependent child from paying tuition and all other fees provided he or she meets the minimum requirements of the state university, college or any public technical/vocational schools under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

“If both spouses are public school teachers, the exemption shall apply to two dependent children,” Tinio said.

The Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and TESDA shall jointly promulgate the implementing rules and regulations necessary to carry out the purposes of the measure.

ACT Teachers representative presses payment of contractual kindergarten teachers

ACT Teachers Party-List Representative Antonio Tinio called on the Aquino government to ensure the prompt payment of thousands of kindergarten teachers hired by the Department of Education on a contractual basis, who have not been paid since January.

Contractual teachers hired by the DepEd to teach kindergarten receive a monthly honorarium of up to Php 6,000 per month. This is below the minimum wage and much less than the Php 15,649 basic monthly salary of regular public school teachers.

“We received reports from kindergarten teachers in Davao City and Rizal province that they have not been paid for the last three months. This is totally unacceptable and a gross violation of their rights,” said Tinio. “We condemn these delays in payment, which robs kindergarten teachers of their dignity as professionals, and call for the immediate payment of their back wages.”

After receiving complaints from teachers in Davao City, Tinio referred the matter to the DepEd Region XI Director Susan Estigoy, who said that she would discuss the issue with Davao City Schools Division Superintendent Helen Paguican.

Subsequently, Director Estigoy explained that the Department of Budget and Management only released the Special Allotment Release Order for their honoraria in mid-March and that, according to Superintendent Paguican, the cash was expected to be available starting today (April 6). Actual payment of the honoraria should therefore be expected shortly.

“We call on the kindergarten teachers in Davao City and elsewhere to vigorously demand the immediate payment of what is their due,” said Tinio.

Tinio noted that the delay in payments seems to be due to problems in the processing of the honoraria at DBM and DepEd central office. “There were similar problems last year, which caused a six-month delay in the payment of teachers. We were hoping that the problems have been ironed out by now, but evidently they haven’t. Unfortunately, it’s the teachers that suffer.”

Tinio warned that this could be the plight of tens of thousands more contractual kindergarten teachers once the DepEd implements universal kindergarten education in June. “We can expect more of this same situation starting next June, if these problems are not addressed.”

The ACT Teachers representative vowed that he would push for the regularization of contractual kindergarten teachers and their inclusion in the coverage of the Salary Standardization Law.#

ACT Teachers representative hails release of kidnapped teachers in Agusan del Sur

ACT Teachers Party-List Representative Antonio Tinio today hailed the news of the release of all remaining hostages held by armed men in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.

“We’re happy that all students, teachers, and school officials have been released unharmed, although no doubt they have been traumatized by their experience,” said Tinio.

He insisted that the kidnapping incident could have been prevented had proper security measure for schools been put in place. “After a similar incident in 2009, involving more or less the same perpetrators, the authorities should have taken steps to keep this from happening again. Lessons must be learned and concrete steps taken to ensure the safety of students and teachers particularly in remote areas.”

Tinio recalled that the Agusan del Sur kidnapping was only one of many such incidents involving teachers. “In 2010, there were kidnappings of teachers in Zamboanga City and Zamboanga Sibugay as well as in Sulu. In one incident, a school principal was beheaded by his captors.”

“These series of kidnappings cannot be allowed to continue. It’s high time that the national government give priority and attention to providing adequate security for our teachers, especially those who dedicate themselves to serving in far-flung communities,” said Tinio.

The ACT Teachers representative called on the Department of Education, the Philippine National Police, and the local governments to work together to provide better security for schools. “There should be more police visibility, particularly in the remote areas, whether through the assignment of personnel in the schools, setting up of checkpoints and outposts at strategic places, and the like. Barangay officials and the local community should also be involved in keeping schools secure.”

Tinio also urged the national government to redouble efforts to disarm private armed groups, many of them former members of the government militia known as CAFGU, and to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice and punished. “At the moment, the kidnappers remain at large. They must be caught and punished. Impunity must not be allowed to prevail.”

Tinio is set to file a resolution calling for a Congressional investigation into the lack of security provided to teachers and students in schools, particularly in remote areas, in the light of the recent kidnappings. #