With the government planning to construct 47,000 classrooms for the implementation of the K to 12 program and as replacement for 25-year old classrooms, Senator Richard J. Gordon has proposed multi-use of classrooms and instead allotting more budget for the salary of teachers.
During the hearing of the Senate Committee on Budget, Gordon said the government could save part of the budget allotted to complete all the classroom requirement by only constructing a certain number of classrooms while maximizing their uses.
“I would imagine that all our efforts should be to try and make our country better. And no other place is there than in education. Have you examined the possibility of making sure that we can, by working with the Department of Education, maximize the use of these classrooms? That we can have multi-use of the classrooms for daytime and night time classes? So that we don’t have to do so many classrooms right away, so the pressure isn’t that much,” the senator pointed out.
“When I look at the figures of education in ASEAN, I noticed that we are one of the lowest, if not the lowest in terms of salaries. The salary in the Philippines starts at P19,000. When are we going to see daylight? I think that’s the basic thing. That’s why I asked about multi-use of the classrooms, day and night classes for example, so that we could put some money into teachers’ salaries and training. Because I computed some figures and I’m lost. I want to find out where we can get the money if we were to give teachers a salary grade of P35,000, for example, which is my ambition. It is far below what China pays but it is already a step in the right direction,” he added.
Gordon pointed out that with the country having the right demographic age that could usher in development, it would be to the government’s benefit if it gives better education to the country’s young population by providing them with better teachers who are paid well and who are trained well.
“We have the right demographic age. If we don’t take advantage of this, investments will go elsewhere and we will lose our bus again. We will be the poorer for it because our children are indeed at the right age for employment IF we educate them better. You know Singapore is a very small country yet it attracts $75-billion in foreign direct investments. When are we going to see that?” he said.
The senator noted that teachers in countries like Singapore, Korea, Malaysia, and China, among others are paid well and produce brighter and better students, which may contribute to the high foreign direct investments that they get.
Gordon also proposed to implement a scholarship program for teachers that is similar to that in Singapore. Give scholarships to outstanding education students and require them to teach for at least three years in public schools after they graduate.
“What I’m saying is we adopt what Singapore does. Get scholars from the second, third and fourth year level and tell them that they will be admitted into the public school system when they graduate and provide them with a little bit more salary increase, a salary range that is competitive so that we don’t them lose them. I think they will produce brighter and better students,” he said.