By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The progressive teachers party-list group is calling for a ban on contractualization of teachers in the public sector. ACT Teachers Party Rep. Antonio Tinio filed House Bill (HB) 6006, which prohibits the hiring of teachers through contracts of service or job orders in public schools.
“Contractualization has not spared the teaching profession. There has been an alarming growth in the number of precariously employed teachers in our public schools and higher education institutions. They work on fixed-term contracts, often receive much lower compensation, and are deprived of benefits enjoyed by their regularly employed counterparts,” said Tinio.
According to Tinio, HB 6006 prohibits national and local government agencies from hiring teachers at all levels, whether kindergarten, elementary, secondary, or in post-secondary and higher education, through contracts of service or job orders. At the tertiary level, teachers may only be hired on contracts of services if they provide skills or expertise not available from the regular teaching staff. It also provides for the dismissal from service with forfeiture of all benefits of any government official who violates the prohibition. The bill applies to teachers employed in public schools at all levels, including post-secondary institutions such as state universities and colleges (SUCs), local universities and colleges (LUCs) and technical-vocational schools.
A contract of service refers to the engagement by a government agency of the services of a person to undertake a specific work or job requiring special or technical skills not available in the agency, for a period not exceeding one year.
A job order, on the other hand, refers to a contract whereby a worker is hired by a government agency to do piece work or intermittent job of short duration not exceeding six months, and paid on a daily or hourly basis. In both modes of hiring, no employer-employee relationship is established, services rendered are not considered as government service, and workers are therefore not entitled to the benefits of regular employees.
Tinio explained that, although these teachers were hired to perform the same tasks, manage similar loads, and teach the same subjects given to their counterparts with permanent appointments, teachers on contracts of service and job orders receive less compensation.
“Volunteer kindergarten teachers are hired to handle a class of at least 11 to 30 pupils for a monthly allowance of P3,000 ($71). Locally-paid teachers earn around P275 ($6.54) per day or P5,000 ($119) per month, while instructors on contracts of service or job orders earn around P8,500 a month ($200). They are also denied benefits such as Personnel Economic Relief Allowance (PERA), Cost of Living Allowance (COLA), Representation and Transportation Allowance (RATA), mid-year bonus, productivity incentive, Christmas bonus and cash gifts, and do not enjoy security of tenure, and coverage by the Government Service Insurance System,” he added.
According to ACT’s data there are 80,000 contractual teachers at all levels. As of August 2011, local governments hired 49,530 teachers and most of these professionals have been given job orders and contracts of service. The Department of Education (DepEd) has hired 19,063 volunteer teachers for its Kindergarten program through one-year contracts of service.
In the tertiary level, there are 13,075 part-time faculty (48.14 percent of the total) in 103 state universities and colleges (SUCs) during the academic year 2011-2012, the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) said. ACT added that a significant part of them are only hired through contracts of service or job orders even though they perform the same tasks as regular faculty.
“Inadequate funding for schools, particularly for the creation of new teaching items, has forced DepEd, local governments, and SUCs to turn to contractual faculty. These teachers, working in highly exploitative conditions, are bearing the brunt of austerity and budget cuts in education. Our bill seeks to protect them, along with the whole teaching profession, and assert the people’s right to quality education,” said Tinio.
Meanwhile, the teachers group reiterated its call for the passage of House bills filed in the Congress for teachers’ rights and welfare, highlighting House Bill No. 2142 or the upgrading the entry-level salary grade of public school teachers from grade 11 to 15.
In the National Assembly of Teachers Organizations held March 19, the teachers signed a covenant of unity and pledged their commitment to take part in collective actions toward the bills’ passage into laws.
The participating groups included the Philippine Elementary School Principals Association, a national association of school heads across the country (PESPA), and the Philippine Public School Teachers Association (PPSTA), a nationwide professional organization of teachers.
Dr. Rizalino Jose Rosales, of DepEd National Capital Region who imparted some updates on the budget deliberation of NCR also expressed his support for the enactment of the bills proposed by ACT Teachers Party-list.
“There are still many shortages—in teachers, in classrooms, textbooks, bathrooms and seats. The drop-out rate is high. The DepEd NCR has still many needs. And in this light, rest assured that the DepEd NCR will show its support to the enactment of the bills proposed by ACT Teachers Party-list,” Rizalino said.
Dr. Mario Ramirez of PPSTA and Dr. Sherwin Manaquil of PESPA also supported the passage of the bill. “I will ensure that our organization will support the legislation of the bills,” said Ramirez.
Tinio challenged his fellow teachers and urged them to stand by the commitment they made in the said assembly. “Some of the bills have already been passed, some have been co-authored by more than a hundred representatives but some are still pending. What we need now is public pressure coming from the teachers’ sector to push the government to finally pass these bills,” Tinio said.