/ 2 February 2022

SENATOR Leila de Lima has filed a bill that aims to revise the Magna Carta for Public Teachers to better respond to the needs of public school teachers.

The chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development hopes that Senate Bill 2497 that seeks to repeal Republic Act 4670 will further promote, protect and uphold the rights of public teachers.

“Teaching is a noble yet thankless profession. The need to preserve the integrity of our educational institutions coincides with the need to ensure the protection of our teachers. This arguably begins by revisiting and revising a decades-old law that has failed to adequately respond to the changing of times,” she said.

The senator pointed to the “worsening crisis” in education, a worrisome trend shown in a 2019 study revealing that Filipino students lagged behind other countries in the international assessment for Mathematics and Science for Grade 4 students.

The senator lamented “the lack of computers and other tools in public schools despite being necessitated by the digital age, and also by a shortfall in the number of public school teachers.”

De Lima pointed out that the Covid19 pandemic further aggravated the educational situation as the Philippines became the last country in the world to reopen schools for in-person classes since the beginning of the health crisis in March 2020.

“Teachers were not spared from this ordeal as inadequate government support led them having to use their own resources for school-related expenses, especially for distance learning needs like laptops, phones, printers, and internet connection,” she said.

“With an education system that is ‘faulty to begin with, haphazardly implemented remote learning setup’ resulted in overworked and underpaid teachers, on their own, to fend for themselves and to wiggle through the struggles,” she added.

Under her bill, De Lima said teachers’ salaries shall compare favorably with those in other occupations requiring equivalent or similar qualifications and training abilities.

The salary scales of teachers, meanwhile, shall gradually progress by means of regular increments, granted automatically after three years.

If passed into law, the measure will ensure that no teacher will be required to pay out of their personal finances for materials, facilities, services, or any other objects or activities necessary and related to the performance of their duties.