November 30, 2023

SEN. Sherwin Gatchalian agreed with President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. that the main thrust of the country’s basic education system must be to ramp up technology to make it at par with the rest of the world.

In an interview with SMNI’s “Business and Politics” host The Manila Times Chairman Dante “Klink” Ang 2nd over the weekend, Gatchalian stressed the need to strengthen the students’ learning foundations with the right tools fit for their chosen career paths.

“Basic education, basically, drives the future. So, whatever we train our children with now, those will be what we will need for our country in the future,” he said.

“Education is the driver of our future. What I’m seeing right now is there’s a lot of technological changes, there’s a lot happening in technology and personally, that will be the future. And we need to inject that philosophy in our basic education system,” he said.

The second-term senator cited the “fundamental, foundational skills” of reading, reading comprehension and mathematics that can still be vastly improved to help learners “progress in the years to come.”

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In a recent statement, Marcos said the Department of Education (DepEd) must address the lag in research and development in the fields of science and technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM.

The President tasked Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio, concurrently serving as DepEd chief, to look after the welfare of teachers, ensuring they receive fair pay, benefits, and be provided with adequate teaching equipment as well as skills training.

Gatchalian said there are two key areas he as a legislator will pay close attention to: teacher education and teacher morale.

“We found out that here in Southeast Asia, we are actually the third lowest when it comes to teacher salaries, ahead of Laos and Myanmar,” he said.

“We need to be at least in the middle of the pack,” he added.

Gatchalian said he has filed a bill seeking higher salaries for government teachers.

In his measure, around P60 billion in additional public funds will be needed for the 800,000 teachers’ additional pay.

“We’re just raising it a bit to at least put it in the middle of the pack. That will improve teacher morale,” he said.

Gatchalian noted that an entry level public school teacher earning P27,000 monthly could take home at least P37,000 to P38,000 if the measure is enacted.

As for teacher education, he saw the need to effectively implement the Excellence in Teacher Education Act.

“This law will put a lot of emphasis on teacher education at the pre-service level — the college level,” he said. “At the same time when they enter the teaching force, we will also put a lot of emphasis on their training while teaching.”

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