By Leonel Abasola

File photo

MANILA – Senators on Tuesday lauded President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. for signing Republic Act (RA) 11997 or “Kabalikat sa Pagtuturo Act” which increased the yearly teaching allowance of the public school teachers.

Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., the principal author of the law in the Senate, said RA 11997 aims to honor the hard work and dedication of public school teachers by institutionalizing and increasing their annual teaching allowance, formerly known as “chalk allowance”.

“I’m truly overwhelmed when I learned that my Kabalikat sa Pagtuturo Act has been approved by President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. And I’m grateful, Sir, for your approval of my bill,” Revilla said in a statement.

President Marcos approved RA 11997 in a ceremonial signing at the Malacañan Palace on Monday.

Under the law, the teaching allowance of public school teachers will be increased by 100 percent from PHP5,000 to PHP10,000 starting school year 2025-2026.

Revilla said the law was almost five years in the making and a fulfillment of the teachers’ request for additional allowance for expenses for a more effective teaching.

“At present, teachers are receiving a teaching allowance called ‘chalk allowance’ of PHP5,000 annually. But due to skyrocketing prices, this chalk allowance is no longer enough. Oftentimes, the teacher spends his/her own money to buy these teaching materials. More than chalk and other classroom supplies for blended modality in teaching, the teachers now need internet connection, electricity, laptop, and others for a more effective teaching,” he said.

In 1988, teachers only received PHP100 allowance, PHP200 in 1989-1992, PHP300 in 1993-2007, PHP500 in 2008, PHP700 in 2009-2011, PHP1,000 in 2012-2014, PHP1,500 in 2015-2016, PHP2,500 in 2017, PHP3,500 in 2018-2020, and PHP5,000 in 2021 to present.

Senator Grace Poe described the increase as timely relief for hardworking teachers who sometimes spend their own money for school supplies.

“This law we have fought since last Congress and we are overwhelmed it has finally come to life,” Poe said in a separate statement.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, on the other hand, recalled that the Senate passed similar measures during the 17th and 18th Congresses.

He said institutionalizing the grant of the allowance would ensure its inclusion in the national budget every year.

In previous years, the inclusion of a cash allowance for teaching supplies depended on congressional initiatives.

Senator Sonny Angara said the new law will help reduce the burden of educators and allow them to better perform their duties.

“Increasing the teaching supplies allowance or the chalk allowance will result in fewer instances when teachers have to make out of pocket expenses in the performance of their duties,” Angara said.

“Our overworked and underpaid educators should always be supported and initiatives such as these will go a long way in showing our appreciation of what they do for our children’s development,” he added.

President Marcos said the enactment of the Kabalikat sa Pagtuturo Act is a significant milestone for the education sector as it provides a big support for teachers “so they can concentrate on teaching.”

The President said it is the government’s task to ensure the welfare of teachers, whom he described as the “unsung heroes” of the society.

“They toil and burn the midnight oil. They teach our children not for money nor for prestige. They serve our country each day by teaching our children the basic foundations to make them responsible and productive citizens,” he said.

The Chief Executive thanked members of both chambers of Congress for pursuing the “long-overdue increase” in teaching allowance. (PNA)