An opposition leader in the House of Representatives on Tuesday sought an inquiry into the Education department’s guidelines on alternative work arrangements due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Resolution 1109, Assistant Minority Leader France Castro of ACT Teachers said the guidelines for back-to-work in the department did not provide enough safety protocols to ensure the health and safety of teachers and non-teaching staff as the COVID cases continue to rise and many of them are asked to physically report for work.
"As the Department of Education prepares for the reopening of schools, the health and safety of teachers and non-teaching staff should also be prioritized," said Castro, a member of the Makabayan Bloc.
She made her statement even as the Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines on Tuesday slammed Education the department for allegedly “exploiting” the teachers’ courage and dedication after failing to meet the conditions for the resumption of classes amid the pandemic.
The group said the “patronizing” remarks of Education officials in a press briefing was a “cheap shot” at covering up the lack of state protection and resource provisions for the education sector.
“Without addressing the scarce and late release of funds, gadgets and other tech needs, modules and policies, [the department] unabashedly banked its readiness claim on ordinary teachers who have long borne the brunt of state neglect,” group Secretary General Raymond Basilio said.
“No doubt our teachers will always stretch their capacities to fulfill their duty to our students, but we refuse to be used for [the department’s] propaganda, not when the health and rights of our colleagues, students and families are on the line.”
Castro said ever since the department released its revised guidelines on the alternative work arrangement, many teachers and non-teaching personnel had complained of the lack of preparedness of the Education department and the shortage of personnel and resources in the public education system.
According to reports, the department released Order 11 without prior consultations with the stakeholders, resulting in guidelines that were not appropriate and insensitive to the working and living conditions of public school teachers nationwide, including their students, parents and other stakeholders.
"The health and safety of our teachers, education support personnel, students and parents should not be compromised, and education should not be a cause for additional burdens to the people," Castro said.
Having filed HR 1109, Castro said, "Congress needs to investigate the complaints of teachers and other education support personnel on the issues of alternative work arrangements in education," even as she appealed to the House leadership to tackle the back-to-school bills and resolutions soonest as the department’s reopening of classes on Aug. 24 drew near.