CUTTING DOWN THE WORKLOAD. Department of Education (DepEd) spokesperson Michael Poa during an interview in Tacloban City on Wednesday (Nov. 9, 2022). The official said DepEd will hire 5,000 non-teaching personnel next year to perform administrative tasks passed to public school teachers. (PNA photo by Sarwell Meniano)

TACLOBAN CITY – The Department of Education (DepEd) will hire 5,000 non-teaching personnel next year to perform administrative tasks passed to public school teachers over the years.

DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa on Wednesday said this is the first time their agency will employ thousands of administrative staff in the bid to reduce the workload of teachers.

“Ideally, we will assign one administrative staff in each school, but it cannot be done in a year. We have to go through the application process,” Poa told reporters during a dialogue with key school officials here.

Poa said teachers are overworked not because of the teaching load, but because of administrative tasks.

Among these is the monitoring of compliance of schoolchildren whose families are receiving cash assistance under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

“The 4Ps law’s implementing rules and regulation says the DepEd will participate in 4Ps, but it doesn’t mean that teachers will do it. We asked our field offices to coordinate with our counterparts in the Department of Social Welfare and Development,” Poa added.

As part of its effort to reduce the workload, the education department will launch a work-balancing tool designed to assess the working hours of teachers and how efficiently these are spent.

The assigned administrative tasks are among the primary concern raised by key education officials and some school heads in the region to the members of the DepEd’s executive committee during a dialogue at the Summit Hotel here.

“We started here in Tacloban and we will hold similar dialogues in other region. This is a good exercise for our executive committee to hear the concern of our officials on the ground,” Poa added.

Department Order 49

Meanwhile, the DepEd spokesperson defended Department Order 49, saying it seeks to depoliticize DepEd and uphold professionalism among employees.

The department's order aims to promote professionalism among teachers and personnel.

“Some of our teachers who wants promotion and projects seek endorsement from politicians and other government officials. We have a direct line to the office of the secretary, and undersecretaries if they have requests and concerns,” Poa said.

The DepEd also clarified that communication on social media between teachers and learners is not discouraged, as long as it covers class instructions.

“We don’t say our teachers cannot use social media, but we don’t want them to cross the line. They have to be professional as civil servants. Lately, evidences of sexual abuse allegations starts with social media messaging,” he told reporters.

Teachers are even encouraged to use social media within the school settings such as posting instructions and reminders on Facebook and group chats.

“What do we want to be discouraged about? The [instances] were relationships between teacher and learner become very personal,” he said.

Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte earlier said the DO 49 also aims to protect teachers and learners from criminal activities, whether they be suspects or victims, recalling the instances of sexual harassment against learners, and a teacher being killed by a learner. (PNA)