TEACHER ENEMY NUMBER 1: On Loan and Decent Salary of Public School Teachers

Post date: Jul 11, 2018 7:14:22 AM


Head TeacherII, City of Balanga National High School, City of Balanga, Bataan

Three hundred billion pesos (Php 300B). That’s how big the combined loan of all public school teachers in the country has already reached (Hernando-Malipo, 2017). DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones noted that the total amount of teachers’ loans to Private Lending Institutions (PLIs) has reached P170 billion as of December, 2016. This is on top of the loans borrowed from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) which is around P120 billion. “Between GSIS and PLIs, teachers owe more than P300 billion and it is getting bigger and bigger so something has to be done,” she stressed. As if to add more insult to injury, the DepEd, in its Order No. 38-2017, gave the go signal to deduct payments for Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and private loans from teachers' salaries. Since the order's release on July 31, 2017, several teachers have received salaries below the mandated net take-home pay (NTHP) of P4,000. One public school teacher even had an NTHP went down to P180 based on some reports (Placido, 2018). Since then, the DepEd and other related organizations have been bombarded by teachers’ complaints and grievances.

For a head teacher like me, this kind of news really concerns me as I know first-hand the flight of teachers receiving entry-level salaries. Indeed, the growing number of loans and the proliferating culture of loans among our public school teachers is something we should care of, whether we are involved in it or not. We have to take the frontline together to face our emerging Teacher Enemy Number 1: LOANS.

Important questions need to be asked: Why have we reached such alarming level of loans among our public school teachers. Should our teachers really need financial literacy, a salary increase, or something else? Are they really over borrowing? How do we address such a compelling concern among our teachers?

With all due respect to our DepEd officials, I know that they are also concern about this issues on loans and insufficient salaries and I believe that they are doing their very best to address such pressing problem. However, I want to tackle this concern based on empirical evidences so as to avoid pinpointing and blame-gaming. Salaries of teachers in the Philippines have not been very competitive in comparison to its Asian counterparts. Teachers in South Korea earns as much as $1000-2000 or Php50,000-100,000 a month. Kazakhstan teachers enjoy a staggering $4,000-5,000 or Php200,000-250,000 a month. US teachers are paid way high with more than Php300,000 or $6,000 a month. Our neighbors in Southeast Asia pays their teachers from $1,000-1,500 or Php50,000-75,000 a month while in Vietnam, teachers are paid $800-1,000 or Php40,000-50,000 (Business Insider, 2017). In comparison, our public school teachers are paid anywhere from P19,000 to P43,000 a month, depending on their level. As you can see in comparison to our counterparts around the world, our salary scale is not competitive. This is just one angle of the story. Teachers’ debt problems are not just the lack of financial literacy, if there is indeed such lack of literacy among our teachers. It never occurs to many in the higher-ups that lowly paid government employees cannot help but borrow money to meet needs such as the education of their children, hospitalization, shelter, etc. simply because their pay is barely enough for their survival.

The issue on loans and salary is a complicated one. However, one of the best solutions that we see at bay is salary increase. It is a welcome development as President Rodrigo Duterte promised to increase the salaries of teachers next. The uniformed personnel in the country has already experienced the doubling of their salaries. We have high hopes that the Teachers’ Enemy Number 1 would soon be defeated. We hope that there would be no more “Londoners” (loan dito, loan doon) in the future; that eventually, most of our teachers would have their take home-pay enough to take them home and beyond.