The Philippines: Trade union calls for greater resources for distance learning
As in many countries during the pandemic, the Philippines shifted to distance learning modalities to enable education continuity. However, the remote learning programme met with problems of inadequate funding and issues of Internet connectivity and access to teaching and learning resources. The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), one of Education International’s member organisations in the Philippines, has since called upon the government to increase resources to facilitate remote learning.
The ACT welcomed the recent increase contained in the annual teaching allowance from 3,500 to 5,000 pesos (about 85 euros) incorporated in the education budget for 2021. However, ACT Secretary General and member of the Education International’s Executive Board, Raymond Basilio stressed that “The P5,000 annual allowance is totally short for teachers' expenses for internet load, cell phone load, printers and ink, and the increase [in] electricity bills.”
Based on the approved 2021 national budget, the P5,000 teaching allowance should cover teaching supplies, communication and internet expenses, and a medical allowance of public-school teachers for the whole year.
With the teaching allowance already pegged at 3,500 in the past years and the medical allowance at P500, Basilio noted that the increase essentially only allotted P1,000 for an internet allowance or P83 per month. The amount is a far cry from actual expenses and the demands of teachers for a monthly internet allowance of P1,500.
The increased allowance is also not sufficient to reimburse teachers for their expenses on the reproduction of learning modules. Due to the lack of adequate funding for learning resources, teachers were pressed to shell out their own money or solicit donations for copy paper, printers, and other supplies for module printing.
Basilio called for additional resources to be made available. He said, "The amount can no longer suffice [for] the enormous expenses and needs of our public-school teachers due to the ill-prepared implementation of the DepEd's (Department of Education) distance education."