House Ways and Means Chair and 2013 Presidential Lingkod Bayan Awardee for education reforms Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd District) has proposed the Teacher Empowerment Act, which will be the first bill of his Comprehensive Education Reform Agenda.
“I am preparing the country for a series of reforms that I hope will lead us closer to the Finnish model of education: absolutely free, absolutely high-quality, light on workload, heavy on critical thinking and comprehension, and with universal access to nutrition. The first building block is the empowerment of teachers,” Salceda said.
Salceda’s bill, which the lawmaker will file on Monday, includes the following:
- Alternative routes to teaching for highly qualified individuals
- A statutory 8-hour weekly limit to teachers’ administrative work
- The creation of support administrative staff such as school and district statistician, and government programs coordinator.
- The establishment of an administrative internship program where qualified high school students may assist in teachers’ administrative functions
- Preferential scholarship grants for teacher-deficit and remote areas to ensure that there are available teachers who live near remote schools and to dispense with the need to assign teachers from far places
- Free learner-based professional development programs for public school teachers
- Merit-based grants to create professional development programs
My bill will allow teachers to focus on what they do best: teaching,” Salceda said.
Salceda also says that “public school teachers should not be made to pay for professional development programs when the direct beneficiary is the public. And besides, most CPD programs for teachers have very little relation to what our learners need. I want learner-centered professional development for teachers. And they should not have to pay for it.”
Salceda’s bill also creates a scholarship for residents of remote areas so that they can be teachers in their local schools, instead of having to assign teachers who do not live in those areas, often with risks to their safety.
While the national teacher-to-student ratio has improved in 2018 to 1:31 for the elementary level, 1:36 for Junior High School level, and 1:31 for Senior High School level from 1:45 in previous years, this improvement does not take into account some realities on the ground, including the lack of available teachers in remote areas. This has meant that teachers from urban or suburban areas are assigned to these areas, far from their places of residence, often jeopardizing their safety and often at the expense of their familial responsibilities,” Salceda’s explanatory note says.
Salceda’s Teacher Empowerment Act is the first of a series of bills under Salceda’s Comprehensive Education Reform Agenda, which will overhaul the education system of the country to make it more learner-centered and focused on improving learning outcomes.
“We tried to reform the system by extending the years of education. It does not seem to have worked. We missed the point: we need better schools, not necessarily longer years. And the most important aspect of a good school is its teachers. My parents were teachers. I know that the moral and intellectual character of society depends on its teachers. We should support them,” Salceda said.