Teachers’ Wages Deteriorate As Tuition Fees Soar

While Filipino families are still coping from escalating prices of basic commodities like rice, bread and meat products and the never-ending rise of oil prices, they are once again faced by enrollment woes this month: tuition fee hikes.

The Department of Education has already announced that the tuition fee increase in private elementary and high schools this school year may range from 2% to 10%. Such can only be expected from a deregulated and commercialized education system, with the government allowing schools to increase their fees at will, the Educators’ Forum for Development (EFD) said.

But while tuition fees in years past went up by as much as 20%, teachers’ compensation has been declining by as much based on the government’s own survey.

According to the latest Occupational Wages Survey of the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics, the average monthly wage rates of teaching professionals in private elementary and high schools range from P12,039 to P13,906 as of 2006. What is shocking is that these wages shrank by as much as 20% compared to what teachers received in 2004. (See Table)

Average Monthly Wage Rates of Full-Time Teachers in Private Education Services, June 2004 and August 2006 (in peso)

2004    2006    % Change

General Secondary Education Teachers        14,991    12,039    (19.7)
Science and Mathematics Teachers               14,626    13,034    (10.9)
Vocational Education Teachers                     13,219    13,324    0.8
General Elementary Education Teachers        14,486    13,800   (4.7)
Science and Math Elem. Educ Teachers        15,434    13,906    (9.9)
Pre-Elementary Education Teachers              12,842    12,389    (3.5)

Source: Occupational Wages Survey, Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics

According to online job services company Jobstreet.com, the lowest salary a fresh grad teacher actually receives from private schools is a measly P7,000. Even teachers with one to four years experience are paid as low as P8,500 a month. Based on this, the lowest paid public school teacher with a basic pay of P10,933 appears to be better off.

The DepEd justifies the approval of petitions for tuition fee hikes with its so-called 70-20-10 requirements – 70% of the increase should go to the upgrading of school equipment, 20% for the acquisition of textbooks, and 10% for teachers’ salary upgrade. Yet even this paltry 10% for the faculty does not reach their hands. It is clear that teachers continue to be underpaid and their supposed share in the yearly tuition increases is only a figment of government officials’ imagination.

The EFD, an association of teachers and educators committed to social transformation, deplores the government’s abandonment of its responsibility to ensure the people’s access to education.

The EFD also takes issue with the government and private school owners’ use of teachers’ pay hike as an excuse to raise tuition fees. Teachers indeed deserve higher compensation for decent living, but school owners should provide this without charging the students exorbitant tuition and other fees.

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