ACT: Teachers flag alarm on death of colleagues

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On the morning of August 23, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers received news about the suicide of a newly-hired Kindergarten Teacher in Bacoor, Cavite. She was Teacher Shannen Espino, 23 years old, who hails from Antique.

Leaders of ACT who visited the wake were informed of Espino’s struggle with the demands of her work—she teaches two classes from 7am–4pm, even her lunch breaks are usually spent in the Office of the Principal doing tasks especially assigned to her; she prepares different logs, multiple lesson plans per day, worksheets which she herself must provide; she underwent 3–4 observations since her start last June which is brought about by the latest addition to teachers’ workload, the PPST. These, combined with public school teachers’ low income, are bound to take a toll on teachers’ over-all wellbeing.

Teachers grieve the death of a young colleague with great potential and extended their condolences to the family. “One death is one too many, and this has been the fourth in just a few months,” decried Raymond Basilio, Secretary-General of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers.

“Mental health of our mentors have long been overlooked despite the mandate of the Magna Carta for the State to ensure the free and comprehensive health benefits of teachers. Without the concrete health benefits program for teachers and the burgeoning workload in the recent years due to oppressive policies, teachers are laid vulnerable to severe stress and breakdowns,” continued Basilio.

“Measures must immediately be taken to safeguard the mental health of our teachers who undergo manifold of pressures and stresses due to work overload and economic crisis.”

In a statement released by ACT earlier this month, reasons for teachers’ overwork were identified, such as the lack of educational support staff, shortages in classrooms and instructional materials, the outcome-based framework for education, and the results-based performance evaluation for teachers. Basilio asked, “how many more lives of teachers must it take before the government take this issue seriously?”

“As the House of Representatives deliberate on the 2019 budget, we call on legislators to take into account the issues faced by teachers which of late have undeniably factored in the demise of our colleagues,” Basilio added. He noted that with the current allocations and the proposal of DBM for next year, the teachers cannot expect any relief from oppressive working conditions.

“We are nearing Teachers’ Month and the only real way to find a cause for celebration this year is for the government to bring justice to our fallen colleagues by addressing the issues of teachers and by genuinely heeding our demands,” concluded Basilio.

SOURCE: ACT Teachers Party-list 

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