/ 25 January 2022

THE Alliance of Concerned Teachers challenged senatorial aspirants to include the concerns of teachers and the  education sector in their legislative agenda.

The group listed five major demands:  upgrading of salaries of teachers and non-teaching staff; safe, accessible, and quality education; effective pandemic response; dignity of work; and respect and protection of democratic rights.

“As future lawmakers, our senatorial candidates will hold great power to address the various issues hounding the education sector. Through the passage of pro-people legislation and ample allocation of needed funds, together we can begin to resolve the worsening crisis of the Philippine education system. So we ask our senatoriables to heed our calls and include these urgent matters in their legislative agenda. This way, the education sector can know as early as now who among the candidates can represent their interests,” Raymond Basilio, the group’s spokesman, said.

The group said that salary hike for teachers is one of its major pressing demands.

“We assert that teachers deserve better pay and benefits. Our senatoriables should at once commit to the raising of the standards of living of its education frontliners. Upgrade the salaries of teachers to salary grade 15, so they may be at par with other professionals like nurses and cops and soldiers, who now receive about P30,000 monthly. College professors’ pay grade should also be raised to SG 16, from the current 14; while non-teaching staff should get at least P16,000 per month to afford them a living wage,” Basilio said.

The group also urged senatorial candidates to support teachers’ call for better government support to education, which they said is crucial in ensuring continuous quality education delivery. It stressed the need to effectively contain the spread of Covid19 and cushion its impact on education.

“In order to break the cycle of Covid19 surges and subsequent class disruptions, we need better pandemic response—one that is not heavily focused on militaristic lockdowns, but on scientific and humane approaches that have proven to be effective in many other parts of the world. The next set of legislators should overhaul our current pandemic response, and pour our resources on testing, tracing, and treatment, as well as on a better vaccination program and aid provision,” Basilio said.