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De Lima seeks to replace outdated Magna Carta for Public School Teachers with an updated and enhanced version

PHILIPPINES, January 30 - Press Release January 30, 2022

De Lima seeks to replace outdated Magna Carta for Public School Teachers with an updated and enhanced version

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima filed a measure seeking to promote, protect and uphold the rights of public teachers by instituting a revised Magna Carta for Public Teachers that can respond better to their present needs.

De Lima, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, filed Proposed Senate Bill (SB) No. 2497 repealing for the purpose the antiquated Republic Act (RA) No. 4670, or the "Magna Carta for Public School Teachers."

"Teaching is a noble yet thankless profession. The need to preserve the integrity of our educational institutions coincides with the need to ensure the protection of our teachers. This arguably begins by revisiting and revising a decades-old law that has failed to adequately respond to the changing of times," she said.

While it may appear on paper that Filipino teachers are getting adequate support from the State in terms of financial resources, support services and infrastructure, De Lima noted a worsening "crisis in Philippine education," as earlier pointed out by observers.

Several factors have already hinted at this worrisome trend in Philippine educational system, including a 2019 study revealing that Filipino students lagged behind other countries in the international assessment for Mathematics and Science for grade 4 student.

A key insight from the said study implied that those tested mostly came from public schools, likewise noting that the crisis is further compounded by the fact that the Philippines doesn't invest on topnotch learning.

"This is exemplified by the lack of computers and other tools in public schools despite being necessitated by the digital age, and also by a shortfall in the number of public school teachers," said De Lima.

De Lima pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic further aggravated the educational situation as the Philippines became the last country in the world to reopen schools for in-person classes since the beginning of the health crisis in March 2020.

"Teachers were not spared from this ordeal as inadequate government support led them having to use their own resources for school-related expenses, especially for distance learning needs like laptops, phones, printers, and internet connection," she said.

"With an education system that is 'faulty to begin with, haphazardly implemented remote learning setup' resulted in overworked and underpaid teachers, on their own, to fend for themselves and to wiggle through the struggles," she added.

De Lima further lamented how teachers living in remote areas are forced to travel for at least an hour on a daily basis for better internet signal, as they face intense workload, inaccessible internet, scarcity of gadgets and mounting paperwork as part of their perennial struggle which was made worse by the pandemic.

Under proposed SB No. 2497, De Lima said teachers' salaries shall compare favorably with those paid in other occupations requiring equivalent or similar qualifications and training abilities and be properly graded so as to recognize the fact that certain positions require higher qualifications and greater responsibility than others.

The salary scales of teachers, meanwhile, shall "provide for a gradual progression from a minimum to a maximum salary by means of regular increments, granted automatically after three (3) years."

If passed into law the measure will ensure that "no teacher [will] be required to pay out of their personal finances for materials, facilities, services, or any other objects or activities necessary and related to the performance of their duties."

In filing said measure, the lady Senator from Bicol underscored the need for people to admit that "only when we empower our teachers, will we strengthen our education system."

Earlier, De Lima also stressed the importance of addressing the problems in our educational system for the betterment of our country's future.

"Ang pagpapahalaga sa edukasyon ay pangangalaga sa kinabukasan ng ating bayan.

"Democracies are only as strong as their voters. If we fail to educate our children properly, they will fall prey to the machinations of abusive politicians and foreign interests, and all the freedoms we fought for and achieved as a democratic Filipino nation will fade into extinction," she said.