Ahead of the Senate deliberations of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) proposed 2024 budget, Senator Win Gatchalian said he will raise the recurring issues on the hiring of teachers.

Gatchalian has repeatedly urged the DepEd to speed up its hiring process. Data from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) reveals that as of February 17, 2023, there are 24,254 unfilled teaching positions in the DepEd. This is equivalent to almost 3% of the DepEd’s 879,789 teaching positions. The bigger portion of these unfilled positions are entry-level positions such as Teacher I, Special Science Teacher I, Special Education Teacher I, and Master Teacher I.

The DepEd previously said that the hiring process, which also involves the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the DBM, usually takes six months.

The Commission on Audit (COA) also took note that while the DepEd was able to obligate 95% of its total adjustment allotments of P658.5 billion in its 2022 budget, the unutilized balance of P32.6 billion can be attributed to unfilled teaching positions, as well as the delayed, partial, and non-implementation of various programs, activities, and projects.

In a Senate basic education hearing, Gatchalian also pointed to the number of schools that do not have enough teachers for School Year (SY) 2022-2023 based on DepEd data and the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028. Out of 39,186 total schools for Kindergarten to Grade 6, 9% (3,505) have insufficient teachers. Twenty-four percent (2,412) of 10,188 junior high schools, and 34% (2,522) of 7,520 senior high schools do not have enough teachers.

“It’s really unjustifiable that our classrooms are not staffed with teachers when there are available positions and funding for those teachers. We really need to improve the process and during the budget hearing, I plan to raise what reforms they have undertaken,” said Gatchalian, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.