With their total debt rising to P170B, PH teachers need to take up financial literacy lessons ASAP – DepEd chief

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Philstar file photo of a public school teacher and her pupils

MANILA, Philippines — Even before they start working after getting hired, public school teachers are already lured by lenders to borrow money until the practice becomes a habit and buries them in debt.

And this is the reason why teachers have to be urgently taught about financial literacy, according to Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones, who noted that the current total debt of teachers “from legitimate lending institutions” had ballooned to P170 billion.

“From Day 1, even if their employment papers have not yet been issued, private institutions entice them to borrow money,” Briones told state-run Philippine News Agency in a recent interview.

Briones said that when she began her work at the DepEd in 2016, the total debt incurred by teachers was already P120 billion. After a year, their total dues grew 42 percent to P170 billion, thus “something has to be done” about the problem immediately.

The DepEd chief said Prudence Foundation is among the institutions helping teachers effectively manage their financial resources.

Last October 26, the foundation organized a seminar in Makati City, dubbed Fourth Cha-Ching Educators’ Conference on Financial Literacy, which was attended by about 250 Grade IV teachers and principals nationwide.

Besides Prudence, other non-government organizations also want to partner with the DepEd, which is now initiating its own financial literacy programs for its teachers, according to Briones.

Also, the DepEd secretary said her agency had conducted a study on the borrowing and spending habits of teachers, whose results would be disclosed soon.

According to Briones, the study will help the department pinpoint the root causes of the financial woes faced by teachers.

“In this study, we asked where does the borrowed money go, what are the expenditure patterns of teachers these days,” the DepEd chief said.

“During my time, a great part of our expenses is for the tuition of our children, although there are also some which go to consumer expenditures. We look at these things in this study,” added Briones.

Last Thursday, Oct. 26, Briones signed DepEd Order 55 or the Revised Guidelines on the Implementation of PHP4,000 Net Home Pay for the DepEd Personnel.

The order prioritizes loan deductions due the Government Service Insurance System and the Home Development Mutual Fund and ensures that teachers will have a monthly take-home net pay of not less than P4,000.