THE sight of public school teachers selling a variety of goods, like salted fish, to students and borrowing money from uneducated but filthy rich traders suggests the plight of these public servants.
Admittedly, these overworked but underpaid public servants are left behind by other government-employed professionals, particularly their armed counterparts, according to a member of Congress.
It is heartening to note that Senator Sherwin “Win” T. Gatchalian is seeking a Senate inquiry in aid of legislation on Republic Act (RA) No. 4670 or the “Magna Carta for Public School Teachers.”
The United States-educated Gatchalian wants to look into the implementation of RA 4670, which seeks to improve the living and working conditions of the country’s state-employed mentors.
In his Resolution No. 523, Gatchalian underscored the need for a comprehensive and critical review that will identify the gaps, issues and challenges in advancing the teachers’ rights and welfare.
He lamented that though 50 years have passed since RA No. 4670 was enacted,some of its provisions have not been implemented at all, while others are either partially or selectively enforced.
The law mandates that public school teachers shall not render more than six hours of actual classroom teaching in a day. And they are entitled to additional pay if their work exceeds six hours a day.
However, a policy paper from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) observed that actual teaching is increasingly sidelined by the teachers’ multitude of non-teaching tasks.
These tasks include additional designations in line with student guidance, budget, disaster response, and health.
Public school teachers are also expected to participate in the implementation of various government programs and undertakings, such as mass immunization, deworming, feeding and election.
Gatchalian deserves the support of the people as he champions the cause of teachers, who are even forced to work abroad as sales clerks or domestic helpers because of low pay in the country.