Teachers complain of ‘excessive’ workload; DepEd says these are ‘legal, necessary’

MANILA, Philippines – Despite clamor from public school teachers to act against “excessive” paperwork and systems, the Department of Education (DepEd) maintained all its requirements were legal and necessary for the improvement of basic education.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, September 25, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that DepEd "does not exist" for teachers to suffer and that issues raised were not caused by the department.

The DepEd was responding to calls from Teachers' Dignity Coalition, composed of around 30,000 teachers, who are camped outside the DepEd headquarters. They want DepEd to do the following:

Guro tayo, kaya pagtuturo ang ating pangunahing trabaho at hindi ang mag-ipon ng mga dokumento, mag-accomplish ng forms, magpa-picture sa bawat kilos, i-please ang observers sa demo, magsulat ng sangkaterbang lesson plan at magreport sa school kahit Sabado,” the group said in a post.

(As teachers, our first duty is to teach – not gather documents, accomplish forms, photograph every move, please observers in demos, complete excessive lesson plans, and report to school on Saturdays.)

“These are doable, practical, urgent and within the power and authority of the DepEd Secretary,” they added.

How DepEd responded: The group’s demands, though, were not answered for now. The DepEd said it could not “arbitrarily order its (programs) suspension.”

On the RPMS and class room observations

The department said this was implemented following orders of the Civil Service Commission for government agencies to create and establish a performance management system for its workers.

DepEd said the RPMS ensures employees work towards achieving the department’s policies and priorities. It is also manages, monitors, and measures performance to identify efforts for improvement.

Included in RPMS are classroom observations of teachers which DepEd said was “crucial” in improving teacher quality. The department said indicators for observations were agreed upon observers and teachers themselves to ensure preparedness.

The DepEd added observations from the school’s division office also had no direct weight when reviewing teacher’s performance.

On the DLL

The DepEd said “well-prepared and well-planned” lessons were key in delivering quality teaching and ensured students learned in schools. They added lesson planning was a skill teachers should have mastered during their training.

The DLL is a template for week’s worth of lessons that teachers need to fill out. It is mandatory for teachers with at least one year of teaching experience in public schools.

For teachers with less than a year of experience, “detailed lesson plans” are used for lesson planning.

The DepEd emphasized schools must prioritize the welfare of students and teachers when scheduling makeup classes. They said while make up classes were necessary for continued learning, students and teachers' rights must still be observed.

The department highlighted the need to ensure that the right to freely exercise religion can still be upheld, as Saturdays may be considered a rest day or holy day for some.

Teachers and students who absent for religious reasons should also not have their salaries or grades affected.

On 6-hour workdays

The DepEd said teachers were not exempted for 8-hour workdays for government employees. They also said under civil service rules, teachers should have 6 hours of teaching and 2 hours for “teaching-related tasks.”

However, the DepEd said it would release an order specifying teachers may complete the 2 hours of “teaching-related tasks” outside school premises and that no proof of service is needed for this.

If teachers choose to work outside schools, they should not receive salary reductions.

During the DepEd’s press briefing however, Briones also hit workers who “counted” their work.

“If there is a child that needs to be taught, you won’t count 6 hours,” she said in Filipino. "That is what we look for in those who serve the country.” – 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.

image