ACT slams Briones for contradicting Senate proposal to increase teaching supplies allowance

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines slammed DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones for ‘essentially contradicting’ Senate’s bid to raise teachers’ chalk allowance (otherwise known as teaching supplies allowance) from P3,500 to P5,000.

Sec. Briones expressed confliction during the hearing and urged legislators to weigh such measure vis-à-vis other government employees and its supposed ‘effects on the economy.’

“At the height of mounting needs for blended learning and direly wanting state support, we’re perplexed as to how Sec. Briones can withhold support for a measure that will significantly aid teachers during this time. It just goes to show how detached the Secretary is from the plight of nearly 900,000 of its employees amid the pandemic, hence her inability to forward our and subsequently our learners’ interests. Can’t she really even show compassion to education frontliners who are bearing the brunt of the delivery of education amid the pandemic?” questioned ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.

The group had long called for and triumphed in gradually increasing teachers’ chalk allowance as they shoulder learning and teaching needs at school due to lacking government input.

Basilio said that education shortages had become more severe under present conditions which demanded the sudden, ill-equipped adoption of blended modes of remote learning.

“Hence, the additional P1,500 to our yearly, one-time teaching supplies allowance, while hardly able to cover all our teaching needs, can be extremely helpful as we all adjust to the so-called ‘new normal.’ It could have afforded us the needed tech supplies to improve our remote conduct of classes. We could have bought printers to replace the bogged down ones after being used for module production. Or we may finally be able to have our broken laptops repaired. These can unload teachers and bring them some relief, and can contribute to the improvement of educ quality. These should have been at the fore of Sec. Briones’ mind if she knew what that small increase meant to teachers and learners,” hit Basilio.

ACT further lambasted attempts made by Briones to pit teachers’ needs against that of other employee, ‘just as she did when teachers clamored for pay raise.’ The group argued that teachers’ needs and that of other public sector employees are not mutually exclusive from each other.

“In fact, if she truly cared about the government addressing the needs of other government employees, then we strongly recommend looking into the President’s proposed 2021 budget for war, counterinsurgency, ‘build, build, build,’ and other non-essential welfare services. There she’ll find fund sources that can be realigned to resolve, once and for all, the shortages in resources which is burdened by state workers and the rest of the Filipino people,” Basilio strongly urged.

The teachers’ group, meanwhile, called on policymakers to heed the demands of teachers on the ground and provide the needs of education frontliners, including a significant raise in the teaching supplies allowance.