Salceda to file house bill on 8-hours per week work for teachers

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THE House Committee on Basic Education has taken up the bill of House Ways and Means Chair and 2013 Presidential Lingkod Bayan Awardee for education reforms Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd District) that will help deload teacher’s workload and will make continuing professional development (CPD) free and more learner-oriented. Salceda’s Teacher Empowerment Act, or House Bill No. 6231, is part of the Albay solon’s comprehensive education reform agenda.

“Teachers are the frontliners of any education system. The quality of education rises and falls on the amount and quality of support extended to teachers,” Salceda said in his manifestation to the Committee.

“Unfortunately, because of how complex, compliance-based, and bureaucratic our education system has become, and because of the many administrative burdens we impose on teachers, we have overloaded our teachers with so many non-teaching functions at the expense of focus on quality teaching,” Salceda added.

Too much time on admin work, not enough time to teach

Salceda explains that one problem in the basic education system is that teachers are unable to focus on teaching due to their non-teaching functions.

“Teachers now perform everything from 4Ps compliance reports, to student registration requirements. Until recently, the idea was even floated that teachers, with little training in healthcare, be tapped into as vaccinators. It seems that every time we are in need of a national service, we turn to teachers, ignoring the fact that we pay them to be educators first and foremost, not administrative or utility personnel,” the House tax chair said.

Salceda says this results in substandard education outcomes.

“Of course, these issues compound and translate into lackluster education outcomes. Just before the pandemic, the country’s the latest Programme for International Student Assessment or PISA results revealed that the Philippines scored 353 in mathematics, 357 in science, and 340 in reading, all below the average of participating Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. If you are not allowing teachers to focus on teaching, you are also not allowing learners to learn from teachers,” the Albay solon cited.

Salceda’s bill includes the following features:

1.       Alternative routes to teaching for highly qualified individuals

2.       A statutory 8-hour weekly limit to teachers’ administrative work

3.       The creation of support administrative staff such as school and district statistician, and government programs coordinator.

4.       The establishment of an administrative internship program where qualified high school students may assist in teachers’ administrative functions

5.       Preferential scholarship grants for teacher-deficit and remote areas to ensure that there are available teachers who live near remote schools and to dispense with the need to assign teachers from far places

6.       Free learner-based professional development programs for public school teachers

7.       Merit-based grants to create professional development programs

“My bill will allow teachers to focus on what they do best: teaching,” Salceda said.

Salceda also says that “public school teachers should not be made to pay for professional development programs when the direct beneficiary is the public. And besides, most CPD programs for teachers have very little relation to what our learners need. I want learner-centered professional development for teachers. And they should not have to pay for it.”

Salceda’s bill also creates a scholarship for residents of remote areas so that they can be teachers in their local schools, instead of having to assign teachers who do not live in those areas, often with risks to their safety.

We tried to reform the system by extending the years of education. It does not seem to have worked. We missed the point: we need better schools, not necessarily longer years. And the most important aspect of a good school is its teachers. My parents were teachers. I know that the moral and intellectual character of society depends on its teachers. We should support them,” Salceda said.

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