Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Raise teachers’ salaries

Posted by butalidnl on 4 February 2010

Richard Gordon proposed during the 29 January 2010 forum that if elected as president, he will raise teachers’ salaries to Php40,000/month. 

Php 40,000 a month in 6 years. This seems to be a tall order, especially in the light of the fact that average pay today range at Php 11 to 14 thousand a month. Even if we just double salaries, the education budget will rise from about PhP 168 Billion in 2009 to more than PhP 300 billion. And this will still leave us with salaries below P30,000/month.

But let us look at things from another angle. The Philippines spends an average of US$ 138/year/student. This is much lower than that of Thailand which is at US$ 853/year/student (Singapore spends $1800, Japan spends $5000).  Even if we strive only to reach 50% of the Thai expenditure/student, there will be enough funds to raise teacher salaries to P40,000 and to spend more money on buildings and other facilities.

Why should the country spend so much on education? Well, because it cannot afford not to. The Philippines’ main “export” product is its people – from Overseas work, to call centers, it is our people and their educational level which is our main product. The products that we make in the Philippines are also knowledge-intensive.  We cannot afford not to raise the educational level of our people.

And I think it is a good idea to improve the whole education system at the same time. The government should also go on a intensive building program for schools, and strive to reduce class sizes to between 40-50 from the present 100. The Kindle (or other eReader) should be acquired and eventually distributed to each child – to ensure that each child has enough books and reference materials. And adult and alternative education should also get a budget boost.

Congress is already quite open to raising the salaries of teachers. During this last Congress, the House passed HB4734 that gives a PhP6500 raise to teachers, and the Senate passed SB 2408 giving them a PhP 9000 raise. So, it is just a matter of the president prioritizing this case, and even pushing for a higher increase in salaries together with a thorough improvement of the performance of the education department.


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