VP Sara slams ACT's 'unrealistic' demands amid NPA attacks

By Stephanie Sevillano

March 27, 2023, 5:40 pm

<p><em>(PNA file photo)</em></p>

(PNA file photo)

MANILA – Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte on Monday lashed out at a group of teachers for raising "unrealistic and impossible" demands which she called a diversion following a series of attacks staged by the New People's Army (NPA) in Masbate province.

In a statement, Duterte said the suggestion of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) seems to divert the public eye from the harmful effects of these attacks on learners' education.

"It is a call motivated by the group’s fascination for demands and goals that are unrealistic and impossible — placing the government in a precarious situation that will ultimately end in failure," she said.

The education chief particularly refers to the ACT's recent suggestion to hire 30,000 teachers alongside the annual allocation of PHP100 billion for classroom construction.

ACT chairperson Vladimer Quetua said the country needs 147,000 teachers to decisively reduce the class size to 35 students and ensure that teachers can effectively teach and monitor the progress of each of their learners.

"Approximately, we need to hire 25,000 new teachers yearly until 2028 to eradicate the shortage, and an additional 5,000 new teachers to cover the yearly increase in enrolment, which totals to a requirement of 30,000 new teachers yearly,” Quetua added.

Duterte said the timing of this demand "betrays" the intention of the group.

"The call came at the height of the NPA-initiated violence in six towns of Masbate that affected over 55,199 learners and 2,815 school personnel," she said.

"ACT Teachers, while silent about the NPA operations, apparently needed to come up with something outrageous to divert the public's attention away from the damage that the NPA attacks caused to our Masbate learners," she added.

She noted that although the Department of Education (DepEd) has been planning to hire more teachers every school year and fund the building of more classrooms, the department shall not be moved by the ACT's demands.

"The Marcos administration will not be pressured, hoodwinked, or distracted by groups like ACT Teachers. Nice try, ACT Teachers. Instead of solely focusing on archaic and ineffective solutions, we will also tap into available technology to address current challenges," she added.

Earlier, the DepEd said it shall resort to both traditional and digital approaches to resolve perennial problems in the sector.

Last week, DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa said the department targets to hire around 9,650 teachers this school year.

Likewise, the agency launched a digital platform called DepEd Partnership Assistance Portal that shall serve as a partnership platform between schools and the private sector.

"We are really streamlining the partnership process down to the school level. So makikita na kaagad ng ating mga partners kung ano 'yung specific na pangangailangan ng ating mga schools. At makakapili na sila kung saan nila gustong tumulong (So the partners can see immediately see what are the specific needs of our schools. And they can choose where to help)," he said.

Poa noted that besides efficiency, the digital portal aims to intensify the DepEd's transparency and accountability.

He also assured that besides the partnership portal, the DepEd looks into institutionalizing blended learning to help intensify learning recovery efforts despite existing challenges. (PNA)