A teacher's take home pay

By Ma. Cristina Arayata

November 7, 2017, 5:27 pm

MANILA -- Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones recently signed the DepEd Order (DO) 55 or the “Revised Guidelines on the Implementation of PHP4,000 Net Home Pay for the DepEd Personnel.”

DepEd said this DO would prioritize loan deductions due the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF), and would ensure that these teachers would have no less than PHP4,000 net in their monthly take-home pay.

The agency further said the move aims to help teachers manage their finances after data showed that many teachers avail of various loans.

Is this good news for teachers? Is PHP4,000 enough? Why do teachers need to avail of loans? One teacher shared with the Philippine News Agency her insights on this matter. 

Let's call her "Ma'am Mich" - a typical Grade 10 Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) teacher.

First, she said the signing of DO 55 is very important, since it allowed them to have something to budget. "Napakahalaga (ng DO 55) kasi meron pang nababudget kahit paano," she uttered.

However, the mother of two said PHP4,000 as take-home pay isn't enough, and wished that it could be at least PHP10,000.

A teacher's salary is not enough, she attested. DepEd told PNA the current basic salary of a public school teacher is PHP19,077.

I asked her why she opted to pursue the teaching profession, despite knowing that teachers don't earn much/enough. 

"Ma'am Mich" cited that tuition in Education course is cheap. Second, it is a stable job. Her third reason was that teachers would get pension when they get old.

Since the teachers' salary is not enough, many of them opt to avail of loans.

Latest data from the DepEd revealed that teachers from across the country have incurred PHP178 billion worth of loans from private institutions.

Briones earlier told PNA that when she came in as DepEd chief, the total debt of teachers is PHP120 billion; and emphasized that just after a year, it has reached PHP170 billion.

The Education Secretary also remarked that private institutions entice teachers to borrow money, even when their employment papers have not yet been issued. 

This is why Briones said financial literacy is really essential for teachers.

But why do teachers avail of loans? Has it become a need for them?

"Teachers avail of loans because their net pay is not enough, especially for those who are Teacher 1 to Teacher 3 levels because their gross pay is only about PHP20,000 to PHP25,000," "Ma'am Mich" explained.

She continued that if you lessen the tax, PhilHealth and PAGIBIG contributions, the net pay would be roughly around PHP15,000 to PHP18,000.

"That (net pay) is not enough for the month's bills, food and other expenses. Teachers also get their allowance from that net pay," she continued. 

The TLE teacher further explained that they are required to innovate teaching strategies and methods, which means they need to buy a laptop, design their classrooms and buy other materials that the school could not provide.

"Usually, teachers also avail of loans for urgent matters like hospital bills, because PhilHealth's deduction in hospital bills is not much. Others need to avail of loans because they're sending their kids to college. Teachers could not afford these things with a small net pay," she noted.

Teachers also need the money to take masteral courses, because according to "Ma'am Mich", they need the additional graduate study units to get points for promotion.

There are others who avail of loans to acquire a house, she added. 

Of course, teachers have various reasons why they avail of loans. The DepEd chief said the agency is initiating its own financial literacy programs, and that a good number of civil organizations want to partner with DepEd for these programs.

Briones also told PNA that DepEd had a study which it would reveal in the proper time.

“In this study, we asked where does the borrowed money go? What are the expenditure patterns of teachers these days?” she shared.

There are very interesting findings indicating that things are really changing, according to her.

“During my time, a great part of our expenses is for the tuition of our children, although there are also some which go to consumer expenditures. We look at these things in this study,” she said. 

DepEd on Friday said it would continue to explore ways that would enable teachers and other personnel to manage their finances.

In its statement, DepEd said that over-borrowing money had been affecting the teachers' lives for years. Thus, the agency said it would help its personnel to truly reap the fruits of their hard work.  (PNA)