Press Release
October 5, 2018


In time for the celebration of the World Teachers' Day, Senator Sonny Angara has filed a resolution urging the Senate to look into the recent cases of suicides committed by public school teachers with the end in view of instituting needed measures to further safeguard their physical, emotional and mental welfare.

Senate Resolution 914 aims to determine whether the suicides were indeed caused by heavy workload as claimed by a group advocating for teachers' rights and welfare, and come up with measures that would address the lack of qualified mental health professionals in the country's public school system.

Angara said a thorough evaluation is recommended "in order to identify if the current workload of public teachers is detrimental to their holistic well-being, address the current and arising needs of our country's educators, and determine the necessary steps to ensure that our teachers are afforded with accessible mental health services."

Last July, it was reported that a newly hired teacher from La Paz, Leyte hanged herself. A month later, another young teacher from Bacoor City, Cavite also committed suicide.

According to accounts and reports from the teachers' colleagues and friends via social media, one of the numerous factors which weighed on the two teachers might be the heavy amount of non-teaching related workload such as clerical tasks, class observations, and other paper works that were required of them.

Angara also lamented the shortage of registered guidance counselors (RGCs) in public schools, which makes it harder for teachers to seek advice and support for their mental health problems.

"With the real cause of the suicides cannot be determined with absolute certainty, current conditions with regard to the availability of guidance counselors in public schools make it harder for our teachers to seek professional help especially since these guidance counselors often care only to students," Angara pointed out.

Under the DepEd staffing standard, Angara noted that public and private elementary and high schools are required to hire one guidance counselor for every 500 students.

He also noted that the recently enacted Republic Act 11036 or the Mental Health Act also provides that all public and private educational institutions shall be required to have a complement of mental health professionals.

The same law also reinforces this mandate to the DepEd, the Commission on Higher Education, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to ensure that mental health promotions in public and private educational institutions shall be adequately complemented with qualified mental health professionals.

However, Angara said the accessibility of psychiatric and psychosocial services for public school teachers has yet to be specified in the implementing rules and regulations of the law.

Since his stint as congressman representing the lone district of Aurora province, Angara has been pushing for measures that aim to promote the welfare and improve the working conditions of teachers, including raising their salary.

Angara strongly believes that giving higher pay to teachers could lead to an improvement in the quality of education in the country's public school system as this would attract more qualified and competent educators to teach in public schools.

Through Senate Bill 135 which he filed, Angara wants to upgrade the minimum salary grade level of public school teachers from Salary Grade 11 to 19--doubling their current monthly base pay from P20,179 to P42,099.

World Teachers' Day is observed every October 5 not only to show appreciation for teachers all over the world, but also to be used as a day to assess and help teachers improve. It is also a day that is used to look at the unique issues that directly affect teachers.

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