By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — To uphold the welfare of the country’s public school teachers, re-electionist Senator Win Gatchalian said he will pursue amendments to the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers (Republic Act No. 4670) to make it more responsive to present challenges.
“If given the chance to go back to the Senate, we will upgrade and update the Magna Carta. Without our teachers, there’s no education and we need to make sure that our teachers are highly trained, educated, and motivated so that the best education will be delivered to our learners,” said Gatchalian.
As chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, Gatchalian led an inquiry to review the implementation of the law, which was passed in 1966. In Senate Resolution No. 522, Gatchalian noted that some provisions were not implemented while others were either selectively or partly enforced.
Under the Magna Carta, every public school teacher shall not render more than six hours of actual classroom teaching a day. Activities outside of their normal duties or in excess of six hours a day of teaching load should entitle them to additional compensation.
A 2019 study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, however, pointed out that several additional administrative or student support roles are assigned to teachers, which sideline their actual teaching and erode the quality of instruction. These include participation in the implementation of various programs such as mass immunizations, deworming, and election, among others.
The Magna Carta provides that teachers’ salaries shall compare favorably with those paid in other occupations requiring equivalent or similar qualifications. Gatchalian lamented that the entry-level pay of Filipino teachers is much lower compared to their peers in the ASEAN like Indonesia (P66,099) and Singapore (P60,419). He proposes to raise the salary of Teacher I from Salary Grade 11 (P25,439) to Salary Grade 13 (P29,798) or 14 (P32,321). According to the senator, raising teachers’ salaries is one of the ways to boost teachers’ morale and motivate young people to join the teaching force.
The Magna Carta also provides that public school teachers are entitled to free and compulsory medical examination before taking up teaching.
Gatchalian emphasized that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the failure to guarantee these health benefits, especially as teachers faced risks to their health and safety during the rollout of distance learning. (AI/MTVN)