MANILA, Philippines — President Benigno S. Aquino III vowed on Tuesday to improve the private school system in the country to solve the congestion of enrollees in public schools.
In his speech at the celebration of World Teachers’ Day 2010 at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City on Tuesday, Aquino said improving the private school system through the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) will give parents an alternative for their children studying in public schools.
The program gives financial assistance to poor but deserving students for them to be able to enroll in private schools.
“Para naman po sa mga lugar na maayos na ang sitwasyon at may sapat nang mga paaralan subalit may kakaunting bilang ng mag-aaral sa mga pribadong paaralan, ginagawan natin ito ng paraan sa pamamagitan ng GASTPE. Sinisikap po nitong pagandahin ang ating private school system upang magsilbi itong maayos na alternatibo sa mga magulang sa pagpapaaral ng kanilang mga anak. Sa pamamagitan po ng GASTPE, maiiwasan ang pagsisiksikan sa mga pampublikong paaralan,” Aquino said.
He likewise expressed support to the National Competency-Based Teachers Standards of the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in a move to improve further the competency of teachers.
The Chief Executive also vowed to continue to push for the revised Magna Carta for Teachers to ensure a better working environment for the mentors and support the continuing capacity-building of teachers.
DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro said it would continue promoting accountability among teachers and encourage them to organize themselves into forming professional learning communities in support of improving student learning approaches.
“We applaud the move to honor them by dedicating one day each year to teachers and the nobility of purpose and profession that they all stand for,” Luistro said.
He noted that the DepEd is striving hard to support the educational efforts of the teachers by making teacher education and development a second key reform thrust of the Basic Education Sector Reform Agency, aimed at improving learning outcomes through improved teaching quality.
Luistro said the DepEd is now using the Competency-Based Teacher Standards (CBTS) for recruitment, selection and hiring of teachers to ensure that only the best will mentor the learners.
The Chief Executive, in recognizing the sacrifices and dedication of teachers in performing their duties, vowed to improve the country’s quality of education and to push for a comprehensive program that will benefit them.
He pointed out that his administration’s top priority is quality education saying that in the 2011 Reform Budget, funds were allotted for teacher-training programs, more classrooms and other educational needs.
The President reiterated his campaign promise to fight corruption and make sure that funds are effectively allotted.
He explained that the Department of Education and Development came up with a list of regions that lack classrooms which will be the basis for identifying the areas that urgently need more classrooms.
“I join the nation in saluting all of you for your professionalism. You shape the minds of the youth who will be tomorrow’s leaders,” Aquino said.
Better benefits for teachers
As this developed, ACT Teachers' party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio is seeking a better deal for teachers nationwide, claiming that World Teachers' Day can be celebrated much better by giving tutors higher salaries and respecting their rights to organize and giving state universities and colleges higher appropriations.
Tinio said that the UNESCO and International Labor Organization (ILO) recognized these needs as early as October 5, 1966, when it issued its Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers.
He added that October is actually celebrated as Teachers' Month in recognition of the profound significance of teachers to society and UNESCO-ILO had been prodding all governments to protect teachers' rights and dignity for the past 44 years.
“It is on behalf of these heroes that the ACT Teachers party-list advanced several gains in the House of Representatives. Chief among these gains are the filing of House Bill 2142 (HB 2142) or ‘The Public School Teachers’ Salary Upgrading Act,' which aims to raise the minimum salary grade level of public school teachers in elementary and high school from Salary Grade 11 to Salary Grade 15 and the airing, within Congress and before the public, of the urgent issues affecting our teachers.
Meanwhile, to ensure proper entries in the service records and to facilitate better services of public school teachers and its non-teaching personnel to protect their entitlement to benefits, the DepEd and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) entered into a deal on Tuesday.
Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro said DepEd continues to assure its personnel that “we are exerting our best efforts to give them the benefits due to them.”
In December, 2005, DepEd and GSIS have already agreed on a previous memorandum of agreement (MoA) that undertook the updating of the service records (SRs) of DepEd personnel. However, GSIS reports that only 385,258 out of 520,660 expected SRs were submitted. Of which, only 291,193 were properly validated and uploaded into the GSIS’ database.
Through this agreement, Luistro hopes that GSIS will accept additional SRs from DepEd to ensure accuracy of data in their database.
“This agreement will straighten all complaints thrown back and forth between the two agencies involved,” expressed Luistro. He added: “We look forward to seeing more news about how much we have achieved rather than blaming who did wrong.”
Based on GSIS records, the total premium obligation of DepEd to the GSIS as of August 31, 2010 is about P30 billion, with the principal amount of about P8 billion, government share of P4.8 billion, and personal share of P3.8 billion.
JC Bello Ruiz, Manila Bulletin