THE Department of Education (DepEd) said it is looking for options to address the need for more kindergarten teachers in line with the 2.4-million 5-year-old students targeted to start schooling this year.
“With the number of kindergarten teachers needed, we are in serious business of exploring various means to address this requirement as we start our universal kindergarten program in June,” said Education Secretary Armin Luistro.
There are currently about 1.5-million kindergarten pupils in public schools and another 435,574 are in private schools. For this coming school year, more teachers for the preschool level will be required to balance the move to reach an additional 1 million students.
Luistro added that the Education department is well aware of the persistent resource gaps in the Philippine basic education system— such as the limited number of permanent teaching positions available, which the department is finding alternative means to fill the gaps.
“We understand the concern of those who will be hired under contract of service. The bill on universal kindergarten will allow DepEd to allocate funds for permanent positions that is why we are working closely with our legislators to ensure teachers will get the compensation they deserve,” the Education chief stressed.
Meanwhile, members of the Congress are considering legislative measures to assist the department in meeting its requirements for kindergarten teachers.
“While it is true that the current planned solution is a ‘band aid’ solution, it also serves as an assurance to teachers that they will not be under contract of service for too long,” Luistro told.
Earlier, Rep. Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers party-list raised alarm on the possible contractualization of kindergarten teachers following the Educations department’s announcement that it will implement the universal kindergarten program this coming school year as part of the Enhanced K+12 program.
“The monthly honorarium of P 6,000 is way below the minimum wage, even though the kindergarten teachers are expected to provide 6 hours of actual teaching per day just like regular teachers. If their plan pushes through, this will seriously undermine the status of the teaching profession,” Tinio said.
Another teachers group also urged the department to respect the right of teachers and do away with contractualization.
“While we welcome the inclusion of the pre-school program this coming school year, we would like to remind the DepEd to observe the rights and welfare of the teachers who will implement the program.
Pre-school teachers presently hired by the DepEd suffer the woes of contractualization, minimal salary without the privileges given to their basic education counterparts and no security of tenure despite their equal or even more amount of task,” said Teachers Dignity Coalition spokesman Emmalyn Policarpio.
Based on the Education department’s data, 27,000 new government items will be opened for kindergarten teachers this year. –MARIA NIKKA U. GARRIGA, Manila Times