/ 14 February 2022

EIGHT candidates for senator pledged to work to upgrade the pay of teachers and increase the budget of the Education department if they get elected in May.

The eight — Sen. Risa Hontiveros, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, Sen. Leila de Lima, and Rep. Loren Legarda, Neri Colmenares, Elmer “Bong” Labog, Jose “Sonny” Matula and former Ifugao representative Teodoro “Teddy” Baguilat — said that addressing the education crisis will be their priority.

During the “Ang Senador at Ang Edukasyon 2022,” a hybrid of online and face-to-face senatorial forum organized by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers and 14 other teachers’ federations and faculty clubs and unions from private and public schools, the candidates shared their education platforms and answered questions from the audience of more than 1,000 teachers and education support personnel gathered in 16 venues in nine cities and provinces.

They were united in expressing their support for a salary increase for teachers, particularly the upgrading of entry level pay from salary grade 11 to salary grade 15.

Legarda said that teachers’ pay has been left behind compared to other professions. Matula said that teachers were forced to find jobs abroad because of their low salary.

Gatchalian said that upgrading teachers’ pay will uplift their morale and entice the youth to take the teaching path.

Meanwhile, Colmenares said that teachers should also be paid for overtime work.

Baguilat proposed a standard minimum pay for private school teachers who are now even paid less than those in the public sector.

“We are most elated that our invited senatorial candidates have pledged to work for the fulfilment of the current Duterte government’s failed promise of substantially raising teachers’ salaries, as well as its denial of due benefits such as the overtime pay. Low teachers’ pay is one of the core issues and a glaring reflection of the dim state of our education, it is but apt that this should be a top priority in addressing the education crisis,” Raymond Basilio, ACT secretary general, said.

The candidates also highlighted the need to increase the budget allocation to improve education access and quality. Matula said that a higher budget is needed for  education infrastructure, while Colmenares mentioned the need to build more schools to improve education access. Labog meanwhile highlighted the need to provide financial assistance to poor students and their families.

De Lima said the country needs more teachers and more schools to improve the teacher-student ratio.