The All UP Workers’ Alliance, the Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy, and the Alliance of Contractual Employees of UP Diliman salute and greet all teachers today, especially Filipino teachers, for their unwavering commitment to educate and care for our young people. Without teachers our nation will be a place of illiterate and philistine citizens. Yet our government does not even recognize the emotional labor and sacrifices of our teachers. Today with the savagery of neoliberal reforms that make public schools accountable for each cent invested on education, our teachers are saddled with herculean tasks that rob them of their time to explore and train to be better teachers. They are tasked to carry out multiple roles to cope with the less personnel and dwindling budget for hiring additional qualified personnel.
According to ACT Partylist, the budget for the Department of Education will slashed by 9.94%, while the Commission on Higher Education will have 0.18% cut. The budget of DepEd proposed P116 billion for the construction of school buildings but the DBM only approved P10.2 billion. This budget for construction of school buildings is 83.29% less than the budget in 2018. DepEd also proposed 5,487 additional positions for non-teaching personnel but DBM only approved 455 positions. Items under Learning Tools and Equipment and Textbooks and other instructional materials were also slashed by P3.68 billion and P1.19 billion respectively. The budget of State Universities and Colleges will also be slashed by 55.15% in Capital Outlay while the Commission on Higher Education will have budget cuts in their different scholarship programs. The Higher Education Development Fund will be slashed by 15.5%, Scholarship Grant for Dependents of Sugar Industry Workers will be cut by 17%, the K to 12 transition program will be slashed by 16.33% and the CHED Grants to Medical students will not be funded in the proposed 2019 budget.
This neoliberal policy to cut government spending and allow more private schools to invest in education is fundamentally taking a toll on public teachers who have to assume multiple tasks and roles in order to carry out their duties. While they grapple with the problem of dwindling budget, teachers also have to face gigantic loans as they cope with inflation and rising cost of living.
Faced with these perennial problems, some teachers suffer physical exhaustion while others endure psychological breakdown from pressures both inside and outside of the schools, and in extreme cases, some choose to end their lives.
Teaching is a noble profession. But our government merely pays lips service to this truism. Today however in the face of drastically reorienting our educational system in the image of free market and entrepreneurial education, managerial control of schools, contractualization of educational labor, churning out customers out students, our society has overburdened our teachers and robbed them of their self-worth. Teachers have long been clamoring for higher salaries for government employees, with the record high inflation (at 6.4 % in September), their salaries can no longer keep up with the daily expenses. Instead of worrying about their school plans and projects, teachers have also to worry about their daily economic expenses.
So, today we proudly join our fellow teachers as they march to the streets to protest this escalating dehumanization. Teachers are not just public servants. They are also public intellectuals. To organize and to mobilize to demand for their rights and dignity are part of being a teacher. One cannot teach with dignity in a situation that debases the humanity of teachers. Teachers and educational workers cannot simply relinquish their voices to institutions that are supposed to protect their rights because these institutions have already been co-opted by the system. They need to organize collectively to have stronger bargaining power. They need to be heard. It is their right to collectively defend themselves against a system that constantly thump their rights and quash their voices in the name of professionalism. How can the system demand professionalism and political neutrality when the system puts the teachers in a very immoral and demeaning situation that are politically generated?
To regain control of our lives as educators and educational workers, to become better public servants and teachers, we have to stand and oppose the further erosion of our condition as educators. We cannot just rely on legislation and charitable gratis from the government and political patrons. Teachers and educational workers must regain and assert their voices in the face of the powers that-be!
So if you are reading this statement, thank a teacher by joining them in their struggle for a better teaching condition and a future free from neoliberal menace.
STRUGGLE FOR SCIENTIFIC, NATIONALIST MASS-BASED EDUCATION!
DOWN WITH NEOLIBERAL REFORM OF EDUCATION!
UPGRADE TEACHERS’ SALARY NOW! P25, 000 FOR TEACHER 1!
OPPOSE BUDGET CUTS ON EDUCATION!
NO TO COMMERCIALIZATION, NO TO PRIVATIZATION OF EDUCATION!