ACT Press Release
December 6, 2019
QUEZON CITY – Appalled by Senator Cynthia Villar’s statement yesterday about closing down small and ‘underperforming’ schools, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines questioned the senator’s ‘integrity in holding a public post.’
“It is unbelievable for such irresponsible and anti-student comment to come from one of the top officials in the land who is expected to uphold the Constitution, which outrightly mandates the State’s responsibility to provide free, quality education to all Filipinos,” lamented Joselyn Martinez, ACT Chairperson.
Media reported that Sen. Villar gave the comment in reaction to the country’s poor performance in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Martinez chided the senator, saying that such ‘capitalistic view that reward is the ultimate driving force of man has no place in public service.’
“It is a big insult to our teachers who sacrifice daily to teach despite wanting state support, not because of what they will get in exchange, but out of their real love for Filipino children and genuine sense of public service,” Martinez stated.
Martinez asserted that schools should be erected wherever Filipino children are as their right to education needs to be fulfilled by the state. In stark comparison to Villar’s proposal, which Martinez said is ‘tantamount to depriving Filipino children of their right to education, especially those in the far-flung areas.’
“Sen Villar’s comment shows of her sheer ignorance of the problems that beset the public education system and her unfortunate refusal to be part of the solution. As a Senator, she could have pushed for higher budget to education, substantial pay hike for teachers, review of the education curriculum, and other reforms that would improve the quality of education,” Martinez said.
Martinez stressed that the declining quality of education is not due to teachers’ and students’ lacking drive to excel but due to problems on government subsidy, efficient implementation of programs, creation of enabling environment, and the curriculum’s orientation, content, and direction.
“We challenge Sen. Villar to spend a month teaching in a far-flung barrio for her to see the sacrifices of teachers and how eager our students are to learn. While at it, she can also join the communities in planting crops so that she may correct her many misconceptions on farmers,” dared Martinez.
The comment referred to the remark Villar made at the heat of the protests over her authored Rice Tarrification Law about how farmers are asking too high a price for palay when a five-peso-per-kilo income should be enough for them.