Briones: I am not against salary increase for public school teachers

MANILA, Philippines – After being criticized for her position on teachers’ salary increases, Education Secretary Leonor Briones clarified that she fully supported plans to raise their pay. However, she said there must be a careful assessment of the hike’s fiscal impact. 

In a statement on Thursday, June 6, Briones said that “a P5,000 across-the-board increase will require an additional P75 billion annually.” Such increase, she said, would have a corresponding effect on taxes, borrowing, and budget reallocation.

Briones also said that raising teachers’ salaries comes with an “equity issue in relation to other government personnel.” They cannot think of teachers alone, she said. 

Still, Briones maintained that the salaries of public school teachers have in fact improved. The minimum salary for public school teachers increased from P19,077 in 2016 to P20,754 in 2019, under the Salary Standardization Law. 

Briones added that teachers enjoy benefits – “some of which are exclusive to them” – on top of their salaries. There is the clothing or uniform allowance of P6,000 a year and a World Teachers’ Day incentive of P1,000 a year, for example. Being a public school teacher is no longer “the most pitiful and lowest paid profession,” said Briones.

“I am fully aware that discussing these considerations makes me a target of certain vicious organized groups among the ranks of teachers. They call me names, twist my statements, and amplify negatives to overshadow whatever reforms and gains we make in basic education,” her statement read. 

Groups like the Alliance of Concerned Teachers and the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition criticized the education secretary after she said that teaching was “not all about the money” during school visits on the first week of classes. (READ: Classroom shortages greet teachers, students in opening of classes)

She was likewise called out for saying in a radio interview on DZMM that teachers were not the most marginalized among government workers in terms of pay.

“The next salary increase of public school teachers will come. As Secretary of Education and member of the cabinet, it is my duty to help make sure that such salary increase is equitable, within the government’s means, and sustainable,” the education secretary added. – Rappler.com