More benefits for public school teachers eyed

February 6, 2023 Jester P. Manalastas 588 views

TWO measures that would provide additional benefits to the public school teachers have been filed in the House of Representatives.

House Bill 1851 mandates a significant increase in the salary grade level of public elementary and high school teachers from Grade 11 to Grade 19, in a bid to increase the salary amid the nonstop rise in the cost of living, while HB 1849 wants to make permanent teacher’s school supplies’ allowance of P5,000 to lessen their burden in coughing up their personal money to deliver education services during the hybrid learning system of face-to-face and remote or online teaching.

Under HB 1851, the salary upgrade shall be “differentiated in accordance with the five qualifications and length of service rendered by teachers and shall not be prejudiced by across-the-board salary adjustments” and mandates the national government to appropriate such amount, as may be necessary to carry out the proposed pay hike, and that this salary increase shall “take priority over other non-educational and non-agricultural budgetary allocations.”

The bill also requires the Department of Education (DEPED) to come up with a specific programmed budget needed to cover the expenses for the upgrading in salary levels of all the corresponding teacher plantilla positions for a period of at least five years “to allow the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to make the necessary budgetary adjustments to facilitate the smooth implementation of this Act.”

During the pandemic, the teachers, especially those in public basic education, shoulder additional expenses for internet connectivity, electronic gadgets, and other necessary materials, among other concerns.”

In recognizing the teachers’ predicament, the DEPED and DBM issued Joint Circular No. 2 implementing Special Provision No. 11 in the 2021 GAA on cash allowance for schoolteachers in basic education.

Joint Circular 2 entitled teachers to each get a maximum P5,000 cash allowance for the purchase of teaching materials and supplies as well as for the expenses they incur on internet connection, communications and their annual medical examination.

However, the circular only covered an allowance for a limited duration for public school teachers who were still enduring the continued effects of the pandemic, according to the bill authors.

Hence, the filing of HB 1849 which aims to provide added financial relief to public school teachers by making this temporary allowance a permanent one, and with a provision for a steady increase in amount over the succeeding SYs.

The bill also institutionalizes a tax-free allowance for the purchase of teaching supplies and materials for the implementation of various learning delivery modalities (LDMs) in the amount of P5,000 per teacher for SY 2023-2024 and SY 2024-2025; P7,500 per teacher for SY 2025-2026; and P10,000 per teacher for SY 2026-2027 and thereafter.

Among the authors of the bills Camarines Sur Reps. Miguel Luis Villafuerte; LRaya Villafuerte and Tsuyoshi Anthony Horibata and Bicol Saro Rep. Nicolas Enciso VIII.

They said the two measures will attract more students to the education profession, and incentivize teachers to further equip their skills set to strive for excellence in their field that would eventually improve the quality of the public education system.