PIDS to DepEd: Review teachers' workload to improve quality of education

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) should review the workload of teachers as a move towards improving the quality of teaching in public schools, state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said.

A recent PIDS study titled "Pressures on Public School Teachers and Implications on Quality,” warned that actual teaching hours have been “increasingly sidelined” by the heavy workload teachers had to deal with.

“The workload of public school teachers is not only limited to teaching but also to other nonteaching tasks. Given this workload, actual teaching is increasingly being sidelined by the multitude of other responsibilities and roles that teachers play,” the study’s authors Clarissa David, Jose Ramon Albert, and Jana Flor Vizmanos said.

The Magna Carta for Public School Teachers requires teachers to devote 6 hours to actual teaching per day. On top of this, though, teachers are often tasked with administrative work, which include paperwork, training and seminars, and tasks related to budget, disaster response, and health among others.

Aside from these, the study said teachers were likewise expected to participate in various government programs, such as mass immunization activities, conditional cash transfers, feeding programs, population census-taking, anti-illegal drug efforts, and elections, to name a few.

The situation faced by public school teachers comes in stark contrast to that of teachers in private schools, which often had administrative staff to carry out activities like enrollment, registration, records, daily operations, and janitorial services. (READ: You want good quality teachers? Pay them right – World Bank expert)

Public school teachers have repeatedly called out the “excessive” paperwork and systems they needed to accomplish. Teachers themselves have said the amount of additional tasks took time away from caring for their families, themselves, and from teaching itself. (WATCH: Why do teachers teach?)

However, DepEd maintained all its requirements were legal and necessary for the improvement of basic education.

What can be done? The study’s authors suggested DepEd look into its shortage of employees and seek support from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to hire additional administrative staff.

“The main and urgent recommendation to address OOSC [out-of-school children] and the poor quality of education children receive in many public schools is to address the human resources allocations of DepEd,” they said.

"These posts will fill in for administrative tasks, such as registration and records keeping, secretarial work for the principal’s office, financial reporting, guidance counseling, and other additional assignments normally distributed among regular teaching faculty," they added.

DepEd earlier said it was eyeing the creation of non-teaching posts to lessen the workload on teachers. DepEd also announced it was set to hire some 80,000 teachers needed for the coming school year.

While filling the vacant positions may take time, the study suggested public schools accept undergraduate students pursing education and have them assist in administrative tasks. This, they said, can be part of students' on-the-job training.

But for this to happen, the authors said there must be "clear signaling” from the DepEd Central Office that it would be accepted. It should also be coordinated with the Commission on Higher Education.

Aside from this, DepEd can also hire more guidance counselors. (Student's wish: More guidance counselors in schools)

DepEd earlier said it was looking to fill positions for 3,500 guidance counselors. Of this target, 1,300 have been filled as of July 2018.

According to the DepEd, low salaries have discouraged applicants as the starting salary for guidance counselors in public schools is about P12,000. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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