Teacher protection bill passage urged amid teachers’ suicides

MANILA Expressing alarm over the reported suicide of teachers allegedly due to heavy workload, Senator Sonny Angara is pushing for the passage of the Teacher Protection Bill that aims to promote and improve the working conditions of public school teachers.

"Lubos po nating ikinalulungkot at ikinababahala ang napabalitang kaso ng suicide ng dalawang guro kamakailan lamang (We are deeply saddened and alarmed by the reported case of suicides of two teachers only recently). It is not enough that we assist them in terms of raising their salaries and providing trainings to strengthen their skills. Caring for their mental health is equally important.

"We must ensure a nurturing and safe school environment not only for our children, but for our educators as well," Angara said in a news release issued Tuesday.

With the recent deaths of a teacher in Leyte and in Cavite in just two months, which are being blamed on their supposed heavy workload, various teachers groups have urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to look into the mental health issues of public school teachers.

Angara said the incident underscores the importance of putting in place the implementing rules and regulations for the Mental Health Law or Republic Act 11036, so that psychiatric and psychosocial services can be accessible to public school teachers especially in rural areas where there are larger class sizes.

The senator has been pushing for wide-ranging reforms, including increasing their salaries under Senate Bill 135, to improve the quality of life of public school teachers in the country.

He has also filed SB 1870 or the Teacher Protection Act that seeks to formulate policies and establish support mechanisms for teachers in matters of student discipline and classroom management.

Under the proposed measure, the DepEd must ensure that there are enough guidance counsellors, who will serve as support personnel to teachers in matters of student discipline.

The DepEd will be also tasked to provide teachers the appropriate pre-service and in-service training on child behavior and psychology, classroom management techniques and positive discipline.

"With the increasing burden on teachers due to large class sizes, multiple shifts each day, and heavier tasks, there is an urgent need to provide protection to our teachers, who are already deemed overworked and underpaid," Angara said.

Aside from the salary increase and protection of teachers, other reforms Angara is pushing for include: Increasing the chalk allowance to P5,000 from P3,500 under SB 1871; and lowering the optional retirement age from 60 years old to 55 years old under SB 1872.

"Isinusulong natin ang mga repormang ito bilang pasasalamat at pagpapahalaga sa ating mga guro. Layunin nating tulungan ang bawatteacher at ang kanilang pamilya na guminhawa ang buhay (We will push for these reforms to give thanks and importance to our teachers. Our aim is to help each teacher and their families to improve their lives)," Angara said, in time for the celebration of National Teachers Month which begins September 5. (Senate PR)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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