Grant programs for highly qualified teachers in rural areas pushed

LAWMAKERS are pushing for the passage of a bill seeking to establish a competitive grant program to retain highly qualified teachers in rural communities.

Reps. Diosdado Macapagal Arroyo (2nd District, Camarines Sur) and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2nd District, Pampanga) filed House Bill 6497 establishing a program that will provide financial assistance to qualified provinces to create an incentive system for highly qualified teachers who shall commit to stay and teach for at least three years.

“Brain drain is a common phenomenon over the last several decades which involves many of our teachers who go abroad to seek greener pastures and as such, we continue to lose teachers in our schools and unnecessarily increase the burden of teaching the ever growing number of our students to teachers that actually stay,” Arroyo said.

“It is also happening from our rural schools to urban cities. Substandard facilities and even more substandard communities make for additional burdens to our teachers who teach in rural areas,” Arroyo said.

“As legislators, we must acknowledge the higher level of challenge presented in rural areas and provide better incentives to highly qualified teachers to make teaching a career in rural schools,” Arroyo said.

The bill to be known as the Rural Teacher Retention Act of 2012 mandates the Secretary of Education to carry out a 5-year pilot program granting at least 10 different provinces, to enable them to award salary bonuses to highly qualified teachers or special education teachers who will commit to teach for at least three academic years in an elementary or secondary school served by the rural local educational agency.

Under the measure, a province that desires to receive a grant shall submit an application to the Education Secretary containing, among others, a plan for the proposed distribution and use of the grant funds among rural local educational agencies within the province.

Each recipient province shall submit an annual report to the Education Secretary and to the appropriate committees of the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives.

The report should contain the number of rural local educational agencies assisted, the number and demographic characteristics of teachers receiving bonuses, and the impact of the bonuses on the ability of rural local educational agencies assisted under the proposed act.

“It is not only our duty to provide education to our children in rural communities, but also to provide high quality education, that they may be able to develop into good citizens that will help their communities and our country,” Arroyo said.

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