“The fact that the DepEd itself had stated that there are 91,000 new classrooms needed in the whole country to address its shortage tells us that the department has to work truly hard to fill this gap.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Address the gaps in basic education rather than resorting to red-tagging, ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro said, responding to the statement of Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte red-tagging a teachers’ group for asking the education department to address the needs of the sector.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said 30,000 new teachers should be hired every year up to 2028 to resolve the shortage of teachers in the public education system. According to the teachers’ group, this will also decrease the class size to 35, which will improve the quality of education.
But the education secretary did not welcome this, saying that ACT’s statements are “deceptive maneuvers deliberately designed to counter the Marcos administration’s solution to the problems hounding the education sector.”
She then red-tagged the group, saying that they are silent on the encounter between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the New People’s Army that took place near a school in Masbate last March 22.
“The fact that the DepEd itself had stated that there are 91,000 new classrooms needed in the whole country to address its shortage tells us that the department has to work truly hard to fill this gap,” said House Deputy Minority Leader Castro in a statement.
According to DepEd, at least 91,000 classrooms are lacking for school year 2022-2023.
Castro added that there are also shortages in high schools and senior high schools. She said that out of the 60,429 total DepEd schools, there are only 17,339 schools that have high schools.
“These are the glaring facts that the DepEd has to effectively address and no amount of red tagging can cover up these problems,” Castro said.
She added, “One sure way to address these issues is for the Marcos-Duterte administration to follow the United Nations standard for the alloted budget for education should at least be 6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.”
ACT also said that the response of Duterte to their call is “scandalously malicious.” They asserted that their call is legitimate and logical.
“ACT’s demand to significantly increase the usual 5,000 new teachers being hired and 5,000 classrooms being built yearly has been as old as the education shortages in the country. We have repeatedly raised the call to previous regimes and to the current administration through letters, petitions, budget proposals and dialogues,” the group said in a statement.
They added that it has never happened, that their demands be seen “by no less than the education secretary as a ploy to ‘put the government in a precarious position,’ as VP Duterte baselessly accused.”
“It has always been the depressing state of education quality and the daily sufferings of hundreds of thousands of our public school teacher-members that prompt ACT to propose meaningful educational reforms,” the group said.
ACT reiterated that the Philippine government is underspending on education.
“Why can’t the Marcos administration decisively allot P14 billion yearly for teacher hiring while the national budget runs to P5 trillion? How can VP Duterte say that targeting 50,000 classrooms yearly is impossible while the best practice was 39,088 classrooms built in 2016?” the group asked.
The group asserted that their demands were in reaction to the recent DepEd pronouncements to look at other sources to address the lack of classrooms and teachers outside the national budget.
“Our calls were made to weigh in the voice of our teachers on the current education policies and programs of the government. It is VP Duterte who is guilty of ‘coming up with something outrageous to divert public attention away’ from the ineffectiveness of the current government in addressing the problems of education. As always, she resorted to her favorite pastime of red-tagging ACT to muddle the issue. While VP Duterte busies herself with her conspiracy theories, sadly, our teachers and learners remain embroiled in deep education crisis,” the group added. (RTS, RVO)