Gatchalian eases teachers, students’ pandemic fears

SEN. Sherwin T. Gatchalian held out hopes that the Bayanihan 2 subsidy recently signed into law by President Duterte will keep hundreds of thousands of teachers, as well as millions of students in schools, despite the pandemic.

Gatchalian recalled that last April and May, “we saw private schools encountering problems in enrollment.”

The senator said: “Marami kasi sa kanilang mga estudyante mga anak ng OFWs, marami sa kanila nasa abroad ang nagpapaaral at alam naman natin na ang pandemya na ito hindi limitado dito sa ating bansa, buong mundo apektado kaya maraming nawalan ng trabaho,” Gatchalian said. Sa kasalukuyan, kalahati lang ng 4 million ng mga estudyante sa mga private schools ang nag-enroll. Two million ang hindi nag-enroll sa private schools natin.”

To date, Gatchalian estimated that “almost 300,000 students transferred from private to  public schools, and still more did not enroll. “Marami pa rin ang hindi nag-enroll. Sa ganitong punto, maraming mga private schools na ang nagsara, close to 800 for now at ’yan ay close to about 43,000 students ang hindi nakapag-aral at dahil dun, meron na tayong close to 3,000 teachers and nonteaching staff na naapektuhan. Karamihan sa kanila, 3,200 to be exact ay walang trabaho ngayon.”

In a radio interview, Gatchalian said this was why the Senate approved allocation of P300-million fund subsidy for teachers and P600 million for displaced students. “Kaya naisipan ng Senado na maglagay ng pondo para tulungan sila kaya naglaan tayo ng P300 million worth of subsidy na pwedeng ibigay sa mga teachers natin and nonteaching staff at naglaan din tayo ng about P600 million para sa ating mga displaced students. Ito ’yung mga estudyanteng hindi naman sila part ng scholarship program pero dahil nga hindi sila makapag-enroll naglaan din ng pondo para matulungan natin sila.”

As a result, he assured that those who were unable to enroll earlier “can now enroll as a result of this subsidy from Bayanihan.”

Gatchalian added that once the implementing rules and regulations are issued, a Senate oversight committee will “closely monitor”  its implementation. “Paglabas ng IRR, ito rin ay isang tututukan ng ating kumite, magkakaroon ako ng pagdinig sa Miyerkules. Isa sa mga tututukan natin ’yung pag-implement netong subsidy na ibibigay sa teaching and nonteaching staff at sa mga estudyanteng hindi nakapag-enroll sa private schools. Talagang yan ang intensyon ng subsidiya para masigurado na tuloy-tuloy ’yung kanilang pag-aaral kahit na nasa pandemya tayo.”

The senator confirmed that the committee will likewise look into the DepEd hiring, noting that there are still 43,000 available positions for teachers. “Marami pa medyo nagulat din ako. Kailangan pa ng DepEd ng 43,000 at ’yun na nga hinihikayat natin ang ating mga teachers and nonteaching staff na mag-apply sa DepEd.”

He, however, reminded  that the DepEd had adopted stricter qualifications even as it is looking to hire 43,000 more teachers. “Dapat nakapasa ka ng board pero ganunpaman doon sa mga teachers natin na nawalan ng trabaho, ito ay isang magandang oportunidad para mapunan yung kinakailangan natin na 43,000 na guro.”

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