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Bright prospectsfor basic education

Manila Standard

Incoming Education Secretary Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara appears poised to hit the ground running when he takes over the Department of Education on July 19.

Based on his recent statements since he accepted the Education portfolio, Angara has a clear vision of what he intends to do at DepEd.

Recent news reports indicate once he assumes office, Angara will immediately address two key concerns: one, increase the salaries and benefits of teachers and improve their working conditions; and two, simplify the basic curriculum and upgrade the quality of teaching.

“I’m confident that under the Marcos administration, there will be an increase in our teachers’ salaries. I’m just not sure if [it will be] this year or next year, but there will be an increase,” he said.

This is good news particularly for public school teachers.

Early this year, the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives filed House Bill 9920, which seeks to raise the minimum monthly salary of teachers to P50,000.

The bill seeks to close the gap between teachers’ salaries and the cost of living, as well as address the distortion caused by the doubling of the entry-level pay of military and uniformed personnel.

Angara wants to study the proposal in coordination with the Department of Finance and the Department of Budget and Management.

Teachers can look forward to better pay and working conditions ahead as Angara has said he is “100 percent” in support of pay increases for teachers because “we know that the quality of education is affected when the teachers are really inspired…and we also get to attract the best and the brightest.”

Meanwhile, Angara would do well to conduct dialogues and consultations with various teachers’ groups and other stakeholders in the country’s basic education sector to get their views on the actual situation and challenges in our education system and how they want the government to address these challenges.

For instance, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers wants to discuss with him their longstanding demand for a P50,000 entry-level pay for teachers and P33,000 for salary grade one employees.

This, they said, would close the gap between teachers’ salaries and the cost of living nowadays.

Can Secretary Angara deliver on his pledge to work for a substantial increase in teachers’ salaries and institute other reforms that would improve the quality of basic education in the country?

We certainly hope so.

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