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Toilet or teachers' room? Filipino teacher's post goes viral.

Summary: Toilets-turned-faculty room triggers social media backlash in the Philippines

Picture showing a restroom used as a "faculty room" in Bacoor National High School (BNHS)-Molino Main has gone viral. Image Credit: (Maricel Herrera / MANILA BULLETIN)

Manila: Scene 1: Filipino teachers in a school outside Manila set their faculty table on top of a toilet bowl.

Scene 2: In another school, this time in Manila, what appears to be "comfort room" has also been turned into a faculty room.

The first image, posted by a teacher at Bacoor National High School in Cavite, shows toilet being converted to a faculty room.

The Department of Education Secretary, Dr. Leonor Briones, initially dismissed the scene as "isolated" and "drama".

But teachers in other places posted similar pictures. The sheer irony of images posted by some "rebel" Filipino teachers on social media show what ails the Philippine educational system.

Education gets the biggest chunk of the Philippine budget, yet the toilets-as-faculty-rooms scenes in some schools do highlight certain inadequacies.

It also highlights as the second-rate treatment of Filipino teachers -- at least compared to the better-compensated police officers -- whose salaries were raised recently by President Rodrigo Duterte.

On average, an entry-level Filipino teacher's monthly pay is $331 a month, or Php202,827 annually. This is equivalent to Php 120 per hour, according to payscale .

Following the toilets-as-faculty-rooms reports, Dr Briones, the Philippine Education Secretary told her teachers and education personnel to use "appropriate administrative procedures" in order to address welfare issues and concerns in their respective schools.

$ 331 average monthly pay for an entry-level Filipino teacher

The department stated that it is "exerting all efforts to facilitate a solution acceptable to all officials and teachers in regard to the faculty room issue."

It added that "concrete steps have been undertaken to resolve any conflict in the interest of orderly operations of the school."

In another post, Filipino teacher Karen Apoloan posted a Facebook picture of herself with colleagues sitting in their "faculty room" that also looked like a converted toilet.

Writing in Filipino, she stated: "There. Our CR (comfort room) faculty room. Two departments in our school use a CR as faculty room. We're not staging a drama. We don't have a choice."

She added: "We don't have lab rooms. Our students perform their experiments on the floor of our classrooms...In my first three years of service, we relied on drawing and improvisations. I don't have a teacher's table in my first 1-1/2 year of teaching. I was sharing it (with a colleague) in the faculty room."

Apoloan, in a subsequent post, tried to downplay the ruckus over her post.

No big deal, says teacher

"Actually, it's not that big deal for me using the toilet as a faculty room. If there is something to rant about and complain about DepEd (Department of Education), that is the very complicated curriculum and mass promotion (of undeserving students). I believe that is the root behind the eroding quality of education in the Philippines."

Other posts made by teachers. Image Credit: Social Media

On Friday, a militant federation of Filipino teachers -- Alliance of Concerned Teacher (ACT), which has gained one seat in the Philippine Congress under the Party List System -- accused officials of the Department of Education (DepEd) of imposing a "news blackout" to downplay the toilets furore.

In January 2018, President Duterte signed a resolution raising the salary increase for the country's uniformed personnel, with a new monthly base pay for a Private (Police Officer 1) raised to P29,668 (about $571).

$ 571 base pay for Filipino entry-level police officer (Private/Police Officer 1), excluding other benefits.

Under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), Philippine National Police (PNP) uniformed personnel will also enjoy lower income tax rates.

With the increase in salary, it also means PNP personnel will enjoy higher benefits upon retirement .

Philippine budget facts According to the Department of Budget and Management, Education continues to receive the highest allocation in the proposed 2019 budget with a total budget of P659.3 billion, up by P72.2 billion, or by 12.3 percent, from its cash-based equivalent of P587.1 billion in 2018.Sep 22, 2018. Official government data shows that the Department of Education (DepEd) gets the highest budget allocation for three consecutive years.

Source: Philippine government data

2019 budget, top departments

The sector with the highest allocation is education, comprised of the budgets of the Department of Education (DepEd), State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Its cash appropriations in the 2019 budget amounts to Php659.3 billion ($12.7 billion), higher by P72.2 billion or 12.3% than its cash-based equivalent in the 2018 budget.

Consistent with "Build-Build-Build", the Public Works Department (DPWH) is allocated P555.7 billion ($10.7 billion), registering a Php225.5 billion or 68.3% increase.

Interior and Local Government (DILG), which runs the Philippine National Police force, comes in third -- with an allocation of Php225.6 billion ($4.35 billion), higher by Php53.3 billion or 30.9%.

Filipino teacher salary facts

An early career Elementary School Teacher with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation (includes bonus and overtime pay) of Php196,527 ($3,788).

A mid-career Elementary School Teacher with 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of Php245,273 ($4,728.50).

An experienced Elementary School Teacher with 10-19 years of experience earns an average total compensation of Php328,600 ($6,334.92). Source: Payscale

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Jun 9, 2019
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