(PNA file photo)

DAVAO CITY – Teachers here are appealing for a salary increase, saying they will be more effective at their jobs if they have one less problem to worry about.

In an interview over the weekend, Merry, a grade school teacher in the Island Garden City of Samal, said it is a sad reality that they have to patronize loan sharks, both to make ends meet and for work itself.

“We tend to accept their offer because we also use it for classroom improvement and sometimes for the learners,” Merry told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Wheng, a public school teacher here, said some of teachers lack financial literacy and easily grab loan offers without realizing the high-interest rates.

“An increase of salary grade would greatly help. DepEd should also hire more competent teachers and allow early retirement for 50 years old,” she added.

Wheng said school-related beautification is one of the factors why teachers resort to loans.

"Not all materials were covered using the maintenance and other operating expenses budget because there are a lot of school concerns and priorities being addressed by the MOOE," she added

When the pandemic struck in 2020, Wheng said some teachers resorted to loans to purchase laptops, printers, and other materials needed for student-learner modules.

“There is also internet connection that we really need. Another additional expense on our part,” she added.

Presumptive Vice President Sara Duterte, the incoming Department of Education (DepEd) secretary, has expressed concern about teachers who are deep in debt, especially to loan sharks within the agency.

“That is the sad reality for our teachers. I saw it when I was the mayor of Davao City,” Duterte said in an interview Friday.

Duterte pointed out that such a dilemma affects the quality of work.

“How can you expect the teachers to work religiously if they are confronted with such a problem?” she said.

Reelected Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, has proposed to increase the salary of Teacher I from Salary Grade 12 (PHP25,439) to Grade 13 (PHP29,798) or Grade 14 (PHP32,321).

Merry said aside from loans, a teacher also becomes ineffective when tasks outside of teaching pile up.

“The teachers cannot focus on teaching alone,” Merry said.

Sandee, a public school teacher in Davao de Oro, said they hope to do away with ancillary services and numerous reports and evaluations.

She cited “Brigada Eskwela” (School Brigade) as a good project, but stressful for most of them.

It is a nationwide voluntary effort among teachers, parents, students, community members, and other organizations to spruce up schools in preparation for the academic year.

"We are forced to shell out our own money during the preparation of our classroom evaluation," Sandee said, but thanked parents and other donors for helping them during the contest proper.

The teachers are optimistic though that once the pandemic is over, things will be easier for everyone.

“We are expecting the next DepEd chief to address our concerns,” Sandee said. (PNA)