Hiring more and hiring better (Day 26)by Rey Laguda
(This is the 26th day of 50-day journey of DepEd Undersecretary Rey Laguda as being serialized here with his permission, culled from his Facebook account - Blogger/owner)
The success of any education system greatly relies on the competence of its teachers. The Department of Education has been hiring teachers on a massive scale. From 2010 to 2015, 172,471 teaching items created were filled up. The average teacher:student ratio has gone down from 1:39 (2009) to 1:36 (2014) and from 1:38 to 1:27 for elementary schools and high schools respectively. For SY 2016-2017, 22,000 new teaching positions have been created for K to 10, while more than 36,000 new positions will be opened for Senior High School (SHS).
It is definitely important to take steps to ensure quality in hiring as well. Teacher hiring policies have been strengthened following the merit and fitness principle of the Civil Service Doctrine of the Philippine 1987 Constitution. Professional standards have been improved over the last six years to better ensure that teachers hired are able to substantially contribute to the development of lifelong learners. The hiring policy has also allowed the absorption of qualified teachers from the rank of LGU-funded and volunteer teachers. By putting them in as part of the national plantilla, teachers have equal opportunity to better pay. Almost 92% of the total LGU-funded and volunteer teachers were found to be eligible and were hired.
The Department’s hiring policy for Kindergarten to Grade 10 teaching positions has undergone change over the last several years and the most current version is enclosed in DepEd Order No. 7, s. 2016. Among the major changes and improvements from previous K-10 teacher hiring policies include:
Clarifications on the utility of the Registry of Qualified Applicants (RQA) and the operationalization of giving “priority” with regard to the Localization Law (RA 8190);
The removal of the categorization of applicants into Categories A, B, C, and D;
Raising the cutoff score for the RQA;
Adjustments in the points systems of evaluation criteria that effectively raise qualification standards;
The elimination of the Division Sub-Committee to insulate the hiring process and doing away with redundancies in committee functions;
The addition of provisions and grading rubrics that allow a smoother application flow and a fairer, more objective and culture-based selection process; and
Removing inconsistencies and ambiguities that previously caused confusion and inconvenience to applicants, schools, and divisions.
Meanwhile, DepEd Order No. 3, s. 2016, is the Department’s teacher hiring policy for SHS. It establishes relevant evaluation criteria and appropriate qualification standards which applicants for each of the four (4) different tracks must meet in order to teach in SHS. Among the policy’s salient features are the ff:
Customized evaluation criteria provisions, pointing schemes and grading rubrics per track;
Nuanced requirements in consideration of the likely differing career backgrounds of applicants;
Rules on the constitution and utilization of the Registry of Qualified Applicants (RQA);
Provisions to address cases where there is a lack of qualified applicants;
Guidelines on the determination of appropriate teaching rank, salary grade and appointment status to be offered to qualified applicants;
Prioritization of displaced faculty from Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Technical-Vocational Institutions (TVIs); and CSC-approved qualification standards (QS) by track and by rank.
The whole process covering planning, selection and appointments has also been shortened from 34 weeks to 17 weeks. Most divisions are now able to complete the hiring process in three months with the support and cooperation of Department of Budget and Management and the Civil Service Commission.
Mass hiring is always a difficult task if quality is to be maintained and ensured. The policies I have mentioned are just some of the improvements that have allowed us to hire more and hire better. Somehow, we have also navigated through political interference at the local level where there are requests to insert favored applicants by politicians. Our people are trying their best to explain and stand their ground in following the process of generating the RQA and fill up the items. For as long as there are people who want to take shortcuts to get what they want, there will always be a lousy politician who will draw his or her power from that point of weakness. Good governance work is not only keeping our politicians in check. It is also ensuring that we keep ourselves in check too. Having rules define the mode of behavior and serve as basis for citing those who don't follow them. This will always be a continuing challenge and we have not given up the fight.