'Simply inhumane': Teachers want teaching time in public schools cut to 4 hours

Public school teacher Mylene Ambrocio leads the singing of the Philippine national anthem during the first day of in-person classes, at a flooded school due to high tide, in Macabebe, Pampanga province, Philippines, August 22, 2022. An alliance of teachers reiterated its calls to reduce the teaching time in public schools to four hours. (PHOTO: Lisa Marie David/Reuters)
Public school teacher Mylene Ambrocio leads the singing of the Philippine national anthem during the first day of in-person classes, at a flooded school due to high tide, in Macabebe, Pampanga province, Philippines, August 22, 2022. An alliance of teachers reiterated its calls to reduce the teaching time in public schools to four hours. (PHOTO: Lisa Marie David/Reuters)

The current practice of making public school teachers teach non-stop for six hours daily is "simply inhumane", even as some teachers' workload exceeds six hours, said the Alliance of Concerned Teachers - Philippines on Wednesday (September 28).

In a statement, ACT Philippines spokesperson Ruby Bernardo, noting that the Department of Education (DepEd) has "maxed [teachers] up', repeated the call to reduce their actual teaching time to four hours daily.

The workload of public school teachers is the "heaviest" compared to the workload of teachers in local private schools or public universities, and their counterparts in other countries, claimed the ACT. Consequently, said Bernardo, the teachers’ physical and mental well-being is being "sacrificed".

"Overworking our teachers is counterproductive to education recovery. We need less teaching and non-teaching load. We need more time to prepare our lessons and fulfill other teaching-related duties to be able to deliver quality teaching."

She added, "It is equivalent to 6 to 9 classes handled daily for 40 minutes to one hour class time, depending on the subject taught. Dapat i-konsidera rin na ang mga klaseng ito ay bumibilang mula 45 hanggang 60 estudyante o higit pa. Sobrang piga na sa pagod ang ating mga guro pagkatapos ng maghapon na pagtuturo, at ang nalalabing dalawang oras ng trabaho sa isang araw ay napupunta pa paggawa ng mga reports at non-teaching duties."

(It should also be considered that these classes have 45 to 60 students or more. Our teachers are already very tired after a whole day's teaching, yet still the remaining two hours of their work are spent on making reports and non-teaching duties.)

She asked the DepEd to give public school teachers more time to prepare their lessons, check output, compute grades, and monitor the progress of their students to deliver quality education.

Earlier, ACT's party-list representative France Castro, as well as Reps. Arlene Brosas of Gabriela and Raoul Manuel of Kabataan, filed House Bill No. 545. The bill seeks additional compensation for public school teachers "after the teacher has completed at least four hours of actual classroom teaching a day."

The Magna Carta for School Teachers currently mandates teaching hours at six hours per day.

However, teachers may be required "to render more than six hours but not exceeding eight hours of actual classroom teaching a day upon payment of additional compensation at the same rate as his regular remuneration plus at least twenty-five per cent of his basic pay."

Bernardo claimed that the DepEd is using this clause to "squeeze [them] to the hilt."

DepEd’s spokesperson Michael Poa has repeatedly said the agency is looking at "reducing or totally eliminating" the administrative and special tasks of teachers. The DepEd will also determine how many non-teaching personnel will be hired based on their assessment on the volume of administrative tasks of teachers.

On September 15, Poa said the agency’s Bureau of Human Resource and Organizational Development-Organization Effectiveness Division will issue a policy on working hours.

It will also launch a "workload balancing tool" that could identify how many hours teachers allot for contact hours in class and for admin tasks.