KAGUMA Negros on World Teachers’ Day and opening of classes

KAGUMA Negros pays tribute to all Filipino teachers in commemorating World Teachers’ Day 2020. The teachers’ social, economic and intellectual contributions in a nation’s development need to be recognized.

This year’s celebration coincides with the opening of classes for public schools, despite the demand of teachers and students alike for a safe resumption of classes. The Duterte government has a twisted logic on how to repay our teachers.

Even before the crisis brought by the Covid19 pandemic, teachers have been carrying the burden of a commercialized, colonial and fascist educational system. Each start of an academic year highlights the issues of the teachers on perennial shortages in education, providing for teachers’ salaries and benefits, and in providing a relevant and nationalist curriculum.

The country’s shortage of teachers is yet to be solved. Around 74,000 teachers are needed to address the disparity but the regime only targets around 10,000 to be employed this year.

In the context of a worldwide pandemic, teachers have become an education frontliner as the Duterte government remains deaf and blind to the demand for a safe resumption of classes. Blended learning is the government’s band-aid solution while it continues to be unable to curb the pandemic as Duterte plans to wait it out until a vaccine comes along. Teachers, students and their parents are left exposed to the virus while the government insists on blended learning.

The number of those who did not enroll, 1.3 million in public and 1.7 million in private schools, is very alarming. Corollary to the lower enrollment is the dramatic rise in the number of dropouts and out-of-school children.

The government’s band-aid solution is a failure and it could not even put funds towards its own stop-gap program. In fact, the proposed 2021 budget is a budget for corruption, war against the people and subservience to foreign imperialist powers instead of a pandemic-responsive budget and a budget for services to the people.

The Department of Education proposed for P1.1 trillion budget but only P564 billion is the proposed allocation. The proposed budget only subsidizes P15 billion out of the needed P50 billion for the modules. Worst, budget for the construction of classrooms and health facilities is decreased by 18% and budget for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) is decreased by 9%. Zero budget is allocated for mass testing, hazard pay and medical treatment for teachers and staff. What the Duterte government has failed to provide, the teachers are expected to carry the brunt.

As we commemorate World Teachers’ Day today, KAGUMA Negros vows to lead the teachers’ struggle for just compensation and for a nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented education. The core issues confronting the teachers must be prioritized – and that is better wages and humane working conditions. We have a better chance in achieving this objective by mustering our collective strength to topple the dictator from his throne and advance the national democratic revolution. We have no illusions that this would be an easy fight but nonetheless we would continue the fight. ###

KAGUMA Negros on World Teachers’ Day and opening of classes