Review teacher-student ratio, DepEd urged

THE House of Representatives oversight committee has asked the Department of Education to look into the issue of  teacher-to-student ratio.

In the Committee on Basic Education and Culture hearing, the panel called the attention of  DepEd to the issue of ratio that affects the learning and teaching systems.

San Jose Del Monte Rep. Florida Robes underscored the need to look into this problem of lack of teachers.

The DepEd reported that there is an average of one teacher for every 29 elementary school students, one teacher for every 25 junior high school students, and one teacher for every 29 senior high school students for school year 2018-2019.

“Iyong teacher-to-student ratio na inyong sinasabi ay pwede niyong pag-aralan. Sa aking pagkakaalam, marami sa ating mga areas na malalayo sa Metro Manila at sa kabundukan ay hindi pa din sapat ang ating guro,” Robes said.

Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also attended the hearing as one of the presiding officers.

DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan agreed that ratio indicates the national average, meaning certain schools face an excess of teachers while others have deficiencies.

Malaluan added that contributing factors are the relocation and transition issues of placing teachers in underserved areas.

“Sometimes, ito ay bunga ng halimbawa lalo na dito sa NCR, na may nagkakaroon ng relocations. So sa ilang lugar ay may pagkukulang. And so it really requires our divisions to be able to reallocate teachers where there are excess and be able to deploy them to the areas where they need more teachers from existing teaching force. Minsan mayroong mga transition issues ito, hindi ito real-time nakakapag-reallocate. Because it’s also difficult for teachers to just simply move from one location to the other,” he said.

In 2019, the DepEd targets 10,000 new teacher items: 2,797 items for kindergarten/elementary; 2,443 items for junior high school; and 4,770 items for senior high school. The agency allotted P2.11 billion for this initiative.

In a related story, administration candidate reelectionist Senator Sonny Angara said the government should set a higher minimum pay for teachers if it wants to recruit and retain highly effective educators who will prepare Filipino students for the challenges of the future.

“If we value education and we intend to create a more educated generation of Filipinos, then we need to pay teachers a professional, livable and respectable salary,” Angara said.

According to Angara, attracting and retaining excellent educators is one of the most important drivers of a well-functioning public education system—a system that must prepare diverse students with complex needs to participate in today’s knowledge-driven economy.

However, the lawmaker said public school teachers remain among the most underpaid workers, given their workload and role in the society.

To illustrate this, Angara, who once taught in a law school, said that a one-hour class requires three hours of preparation.

On top of this, teachers also spend a lot of time learning new content standards, monitoring the progress of their students and planning interventions if necessary.