By JEANNETTE RIBAYA-CAWIDING
BAGUIO CITY — For the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Cordillera, one of the most relevant components in the celebration of National Teachers’ Month and World Teachers’ Day, is the provision of a venue for teachers to reflect on their situation as education workers in terms of their salaries, benefits and welfare and how these can be upgraded so that they can effectively continue to play their significant role.
To give due recognition to the significant role of teachers in nation-building, President Benigno Aquino signed Presidential Proclamation No. 242 on August 24, 2011 “Declaring the Period from September 5 to October 5 of Every Year as the National Teachers’ Month”.
Also, annually on October 5 since 1994, World Teachers’ Day is celebrated to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. The 1966 Recommendation constitutes the main reference framework for addressing teachers’ rights and responsibilities on a global scale.
Here in Baguio, the organization worked with the Baguio City Council Committee on Education, Culture and Historical Research and successfully made it a part of the one-month Baguio Day Celebration from September 1 – 30. With the theme “Empowering Teachers, Asserting their Rights and Welfare!”, the ACT Chapter in Baguio sponsored a teacher leaders’ forum last September 29 with guest speaker ACT Teachers Partylist Representative France Castro who updated leaders on the legislative gains and struggles for teachers welfare in Congress.
Foremost on the gains is the teachers’ clothing allowance increase from P5,000 to P6,000 for 2018 and the chalk allowance from P1,500 to P2,500. On the struggles is the legislation of salary increase for Teacher 1 from P19,000 to P25,000. To supplement these efforts on the regional level, Hon. Castro challenged the teachers to pursue the accreditation of ACT-CAR Union as the sole and exclusive negotiating unit with the Department of Education – Cordillera Administrative Region (DepEd-CAR) for other benefits.
As output therefore, the leaders committed to solicit signatures for accreditation and ratification of a draft Collective Negotiations Agreement for the subsequent bargaining of union officers with DepEd-CAR from their colleagues.
Other concerns raised in the forum were on those related with the K12 implementation in Senior High Schools in terms of the lack of equipment facilities and the need for a union among teachers for the resolution of their issues.
In Benguet, ACT-CAR worked with DepEd-Benguet for the inclusion of a similar presentation by Hon. Castro in their Benguet Teachers’ Day Celebration also on September 29. The more than 5,000 teachers from both public and private institutions from primary to tertiary levels participating in the province-wide activity were delighted to hear of the significant victories for the teachers in Congress. Supportive of these efforts, they also pursued to solicit more signatures for the accreditation of ACT-CAR Union as the sole and exclusive negotiating unit to bargain for Cordillera teachers’ benefits with the Department of Education- Cordillera Administrative Region.
Working also with the DepEd in Apayao, ACT-CAR also facilitated the discussion of teachers’ benefits and welfare with ACT-NCR Education Committee Head Vladimir Quetua as speaker to the around 200 teachers of Flora District in Apayao. The presentation was contextualized within the ASEAN framework and neoliberal policies like big, corporate mining in the Cordilllera and the privatization in education which the Duterte administration is pursuing.
He also discussed the issue on the local allowance, catching the interest of their municipal mayor who noted that the Apayao teachers do not have this benefit. Then Mr. Quetua proceeded to highlight the importance of having a union and its legal bases, and encouraged them to support the accreditation of ACT-CAR Union and the ratification of the draft Collective Negotiations Agreement. The forum output exactly produced these signatures from all the participants.
Assessing the achievements of these Teacher Day and Teacher Month activities, ACT-CAR noted the greater awareness of teachers of their plight, their greater understanding of the legal bases of their rights especially the right to self-organization, to decent salary, to job security and to exercise their democratic rights as well as their willingness to take initial steps to improve their condition. It is hoped that these information activities will be pursued through their tighter organization as a union. # nordis.net