Subsidies, loans for teachers urged

Aurelio "Dong" Dueñas Gonzales Jr
Pampanga, 3rd District Rep. Aurelio "Dong" Dueñas Gonzales Jr.

A HOUSE leader proposed subsidies and loans for teachers and other school personnel who will be affected by the uncertain opening of classes.

Deputy Speaker and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. is urging the government to launch subsidy and loan programs for teachers and other school personnel both in public and private schools.

Gonzales’ proposal was introduced through House Resolution No. 905, which he recently filed.

His appeal is addressed to the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Finance, Commission on Higher Education, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and National Economic and Development Authority.

In proposing loan and subsidy programs for school personnel, Gonzales said it is most likely that classes will not resume unless a COVID-19 vaccine is developed and is available in the country.

No less than President Duterte, recognizing the risk the pandemic poses to school children and the people in general, has said classes will not resume in August as set by the DepEd, unless there is a vaccine to fight the coronavirus disease.

The DepEd sets August 24 as the formal opening of school year 2020-2021.

However, on Monday, the President said allowing students to return to school amid the pandemic would “spell disaster.”

The President said he prefers no classes this school year unless there is a vaccine that will protect the students.

“I will not allow the opening of classes if students have to stay close to each other. Never mind if they don’t finish. For this generation, no one will finish medicine or engineering,” the President said.

“Unless I am sure that they are really safe. It’s useless to be talking about opening of classes. For me, there should be a vaccine first. When it’s available, then it’s okay,” the President added.

Gonzales said the delay in the opening of classes would seriously affect the employment and income of teachers and non-teaching staff, especially those working in private schools.

“There is thus a need to help the affected school personnel,” he said.

He said he is leaving to the agencies the details of the subsidies and loans they can make available to school workers, provided that loans carry the lowest possible interest.

Earlier, Gonzales opposed the opening of classes in August unless a COVID-19 vaccine is already available.

He said though the education department encourages distance learning through the Internet, this is not possible in the provinces, where telecommunication signals are weak.

Even in many highly urbanized cities and towns, Internet and mobile phone communication is not reliable, he said.