Teachers’ Migration Highlights Assembly In Philippines

December 15, 2007 at 11:21 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 15, 2007) – As countries all over the world prepare to celebrate International Migrants’ Day next Tuesday, elementary and high school teachers from all over the Philippines came together to highlight their pressing concerns particularly on the issue of continued outmigration of Filipino teachers to work abroad.

Around 100 leaders of unions in the basic education sector representing 160,000 rank and file teachers on Saturday held a national assembly with the theme “Women and Young Educators Uniting Towards Achieving Transformative and Liberating Education.”

Organized by the Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK) in partnership with the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the LO/FTF Danish Trade Union Council for International Development Cooperation, the event served as a venue for teachers to discuss the current state of women and young educators in the Philippines and the emerging challenge of migration of education professionals.

At present, the education sector makes up the biggest slice of the entire nation’s bureaucracy, totaling to more than 520,000 of the 1.4 million government workers in the country, organizers said.

Majority of the education sector is composed of teachers in basic education with 471,837 elementary and secondary teachers in 45,802 public schools in the country.

Of the total number of basic education teachers, 87 % are women. Considering their size, women educators largely bear the burden of the worsening education crisis in the country as a result of the continued neglect by the government to address gaps in the education system, particularly those pertaining to pay and working conditions of the teachers.

“The Arroyo administration persistently boasts that our economy is growing higher than ever, but public school teachers do not feel the benefits of this economic growth,” Annie Enriquez-Geron, General Secretary of PSLINK, said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

Third quarter growth based on the latest national income accounts (NIA) figures showed a 6.6 % growth in the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), higher than the 5.1 % recorded in the same quarter last year. But this growth was primarily driven by the influx of remittances from Filipino migrant workers.

“All the growth Arroyo speaks of is mainly due to the billions of dollars in remittances by our migrant workers, not really because of improvements in the domestic economy. Arroyo has not created enough job opportunities and has not improved employment conditions in the country,” Geron said.

Labor migration has intensified immensely in the last decade. Geron asserts that this is principally due to the administration’s “addiction” to remittances from exporting its labor instead of pushing for genuine job creation.

“The government is not creating decent work in the country. In the education sector for instance, pay for teachers continues to be peg at levels not sufficient to support an acceptable standard of living. Working conditions in public schools are deplorable, especially in rural areas.”

“All these factors push our best teachers to go abroad and try their luck overseas. The lucky ones get to practice what they were trained for, but others, forced to work overseas due to the unbearable conditions and the lack of opportunities in the country, become domestic workers,” she said.

Geron argues that the current growth of the economy is not sustainable.

Migration may be bringing in remittances that prop up the economy but it has tremendous social costs to the country such as shortages in talent and the degradation of public services such as health and education.

Jonathan Malaya, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education, who gave the keynote speech during the national assembly, also acknowledges the growing number of teachers leaving the country and its negative consequences.

“While we have a sufficient number of teachers who can fill items left vacant by those who migrate to work abroad,” said Malaya, “a rising number of those who leave are those with years of experience in teaching and this affects the quality of education in the country.”

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