Policy reforms pushed to address 'teacher-shaming' after Tulfo episode

MANILA, Philippines – The group Teachers' Dignity Coalition (TDC) have recommended policy reforms to address problems of what it called teacher-shaming, after a disciplinary action against a student led a teacher to agree on live television that she would give up her license.

The TDC said in a statement on Saturday, November 23, that while it denounced tje "old ways" of student discipline, measures should be put in place to institutionalize methods so teachers are not put in a position where they can go overboard with their punishments.

One of the recommendations is to ensure that all schools have registered guidance counselors who have higher salaries. The TDC also said schools must create more Special Education (SPED) centers and hire more SPED teachers.

TDC also suggested to reduce "class size to a maximum of 30 students per classroom," and strictly follow the provision for sick and vacation leave benefits of teachers.

"Institutionalization of alternative school discipline policies agreed by parents, teachers and learners," was also one of the recommendations.

The TDC proposed that teachers undergo training on the positive discipline approach.

The group made the recommendations after a controversial episode on “Raffy Tulfo in Action,” where the family of a Grade 2 student complained about teacher Melita Limjuco who sent the toddler out of the classroom for forgetting to bring his report card, subjecting him to humiliation, said the family.

In his usual style on his program, Tulfo asked Limjuco if she would rather take the issue to court, or just agree to have her license revoked. Limjuco agreed to the latter, causing uproar on social media from teachers and supporters who condemned teacher-shaming.

TDC  national chairperson Benjo Basas said on Saturday: “We have the RA 7610, the DepEd Child Protection Policy and other laws which we recognize and respect. Unfortunately, these laws are used to harass, threaten and intimidate the helpless teachers and in some cases, extort money from them,"

“We must, at all times be sure that the rights and welfare of teachers be protected in the same weight as we protect the children," Basas added.

Republic Act No. 4670, or the Magna Carta for Public Teachers, guarantees due process for teachers subjected to sanctions, such as the right to be informed of the charges, and the right to appeal to clearly designated authorities.

The TDC said that "according to our sources from the teacher’s school in Manila, the teacher and the child’s mother have already settled their dispute after a meeting with some DepEd-Manila officials."

"It may be the end of the story for the mother and the teacher...[But] in many circumstances, teachers accused of violation of children’s rights have been subjected to harassment, intimidation, extortion, physical threat and some kind of media sensationalization," said the TDC.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, DepEd Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla shared what she called "clarifications and points to ponder" in relation to the incident.

"Rest assured that this case is being handled by DepEd regional and division offices already through proper procedures according to applicable laws and policies (such as among others Child Protection Law and Magna Carta of Teachers)," she said, adding that the department "adheres to them and shall ensure they are complied with."

"DepEd shall take care and protect both the learner and teacher through due process which is already existing at all levels of governance (schools, division, regional and Central Office). Matters like this are governed by law, policies and procedures which are accordingly complied with. These laws and policies oblige DepEd not to divulge details of the investigation," she added.

Sevilla also said that there is a proper forum for resolving concerns involving teachers and students.

"We need cooperation and coordination of all stakeholders to maintain trust, respect and dignity of all learners, teachers and administrators of schools. We urge all in our DepEd family and the general public not to spread pictures of learner and teacher and/or videos of the incident as this will have further impact to them and their families," she said. Rappler.com