/ 5 May 2021

ACT TEACHERS Partylist Rep.  France Castro on Tuesday expressed alarm over the serious welfare issues faced by public school teachers during the pandemic.

An online survey conducted by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers showed that more than 70 percent of the teacher-respondents said that distance learning workload had negative impact on their physical and mental health.

“Teachers are our education frontliners. The Duterte administration must also prioritize addressing the serious labor situation of public school teachers and must be given due consideration in their planning for the opening of the next school year,” Castro said.

She added that teachers reported that their health conditions are worsening because of their heavy workload and the lack of support from the government.

Hypertension, stress, lack of rest, blurred vision, involuntary muscle twitching, hand tremors, chronic back pain and depression were among the symptoms reported by teachers.

“On top of the perennial problems of shortages in education, many problems in education emerged with the government’s blended distance learning which have yet to be addressed by the Department of Education,” the lawmaker said.

She added that teachers and students continue to face problems such as lack of gadgets, modules and access to the internet.

“On top of that, teachers are also expected to submit many reports on distance learning implementation that the DepEd arbitrarily orders, there are also many requirements for the teacher evaluation system Results-based Performance Management System, and the Learning Delivery Modality course modules that teachers are required to accomplish,” Castro stressed.

According to the survey, 41 percent of the teachers polled from NCR and 29 percent of those working outside Metro Manila said they work 9-16 hours a day and even beyond class days to be able to fulfill the requirements set by the DepEd.

Castro lamented that with the extension of the school year, teachers will be forced to render 77 days of overtime work.

“Our public school teachers will be working for almost 13 months without an official summer break. The DepEd has yet to provide solutions to the demands of teachers for their rightful leave benefits and overtime pay. Pushing for an August 23 class opening will further reduce the proportional vacation pay of teachers from 80 days-worth to only 59,” she added.

Castro called on DepEd to implement the provisions of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, particularly the grant of compulsory medical examination before employment and free medical check-up at least once a year.