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Philippines: Higher education union negotiates financial support for educators during COVID-19 university closures

The National Alliance of Teachers and Office Workers is assisting its members in negotiations with employers so that educators receive financial support during school closures in the Philippines. The union is also offering students remedial online sessions.

The Philippines has implemented localised school closures to limit the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The National Alliance of Teachers and Office Workers (SMP-NATOW) welcomed the early suspension of classes as “the best remedy to save students and teachers from harm”. However, the Education International affiliate also recognised the precarious situation the school closures create for its members. Therefore, the union has been focusing its efforts on negotiating with employers so that funds are provided to educators during the closures.

While in some cases negotiations have been successful and cash advances were given to educators, negotiations continue in some education institutions where the union is arguing for support to be provided in the form of grants and not loans.

At the same time, the union is working to help students with final exams. While the school closures do not mean an automatic pass in exams, private school managers were given the authority to choose between several options, such as organising the exams online or basing the final grade on midterm results. The union is working with its members to contact students with low grades and offer remedial online sessions for those who want to improve their results.