Almost all of us are aware of the myriad of problems our education system is facing. Filipino students rank among the lowest in the world when it comes to reading comprehension, math and science. There is no question that we are faced with a learning crisis that if left unchecked could result in dire consequences for our learners, our workforce and the economy as a whole.
This is the primary reason for the decision of Congress to pass Republic Act 11899, which paved the way for the creation of the Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM 2). As one of six commissioners of EDCOM 2, I have been active in the work of the body to conduct a comprehensive review and assessment of the country’s education system, with the end in view of coming up with key reforms that will help address the inherent problems and make it more competitive globally. Over the next three years, we in EDCOM 2 will strive to develop key policies and strategies, including legislation—building on the gains made during the first EDCOM and addressing the requirements of the current times.
My father led the first EDCOM in 1990 that paved the way for the “trifocalization” of the education system, with the Department of Education having oversight over basic education; the Commission on Higher Education for higher education; and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority for technical and vocational education and training.
One of the key areas of focus of the EDCOM 2 is on our educators, the people at the heart of the education sector. A huge burden is being carried by our teachers to ensure that our children are getting the proper education that they require to become productive members of society. Over the years, we have filed several measures aimed at improving the plight of our teachers and equipping them with the tools necessary to properly do their jobs. In the current 19th Congress, we filed at least six bills for the benefit of our teachers. Among them is the Kabalikat sa Pagtuturo Act, which seeks to raise the annual teaching supplies allowance to P7,500 in its first year of implementation and then to P10,000 in the succeeding school years. The Senate approved the bill on May 22, 2023 and we are awaiting the action of the House of Representatives.
To provide many of our teachers with some relief on their transport costs, especially those who have to travel long distances to reach their schools, we filed SBN 1169 or the Teachers Home in School Act. This measure seeks to provide public school teachers with living facilities within the schools they or at the nearest location to the schools where they teach. This will not only result in savings for many teachers but also in improvements in their overall performances since they would be able to spend more time with their teaching duties instead of commuting.
We are also pushing for the lowering of the optional retirement age for teachers from 60 to 55 years old. Given the amount of work put in by our teachers and the physical, emotional and mental toll their jobs have on them, providing them with this option to retire early will allow them to enjoy life while they are still well and able.
We celebrate National Teachers’ Month on September 5 to October 5 every year by virtue of Proclamation No. 242 series of 2011. This was done to generate widespread awareness and support for World Teachers’ Day on October 5 every year as declared by UNESCO. We also celebrate Education Week during the second week of September of each year based on Proclamation No. 409, series of 1953. On September 8 of each year, the country also celebrates National Literacy Day as contained in Proclamation No. 1886, series of 1979. The objectives of these presidential issuances remain relevant to this day as the promotion of education and literacy continue to be among the top priorities of our government. Rest assured we will continue to push for legislation that promote and protect the welfare of our teachers. Taking care of our teachers and equipping them with the tools necessary to better perform their duties will result in more rewarding experiences for them and more importantly, improved performances for our students.
Senator Sonny Angara has been in public service for 19 years—9 years as Representative of the Lone District of Aurora, and 10 as Senator. He has authored, co-authored, and sponsored more than 330 laws. He is currently serving his second term in the Senate.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org| Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @sonnyangara