September 23, 2023

It is a teacher’s Christmas miracle in May this year when the Special Hardship Allowance (SHA) started to become more than just a cash incentive but an expansive support to inclusive learning and teaching.
The amendment to the SHA claims to honor eligible teachers with a more objective thrust and less bureaucracy in payment to further classroom accessibility. Otherwise, it becomes a duplicate of the old guidelines.
The Department of Education and Department of Budget and Management issued Joint Circular 1 s. 2021, amending National Budget Circular 514, s. 2007, granting higher SHA to qualified teachers and school heads.
The issuance was in recognition of the amplified education accessibility where there is necessary recruitment, retainment, and encouragement for teachers to work in far-flung communities and include those who are currently working in such conditions. I cannot help but to think that SHA has a latent intention to lure more teachers to work in the rural areas. Of course, it is for a good cause, but with lacking teaching resources.
Moreover, the SHA grant is said to be given monthly to classroom teachers in elementary and secondary schools and school heads or administrators that are exposed to extreme difficulties and hazards, such as difficulty in commuting to the place of work. Having to pass the determinants, I am lucky to be one of those qualified to receive the SHA provided that I send necessary documents.
As a public school teacher, I am optimistic about the modification. It supports eligible teachers and is a practical aid to raise awareness on the adversities of teachers. The SHA is just one of the solutions to the major blows of our country’s educational system as it helps in carrying out the sought-after quality education for all.
Usec. Annalyn Sevilla said that the SHA increased from the 15 to 25 percent of the monthly basic salary to 25 percent of the monthly basic salary of personnel assigned in hardship posts. We were supposed to receive our SHA in November but until now there is no update on the promised allowance; yet another broken promise from an old guideline.
The modification aroused when the Unicef along with the DepEd, conducted a study on the provision of SHA which assessed the identification of recipients to the actual payment of the allowance.
It was brought to light that the present decentralized processing of the SHA leads to variation in the interpretation of the guidelines resulting in different computations, in which there is a lacking standardized tool to calculate the individual SHA per teacher.
Other hardships recognized that contributes include factors which are time and cost of transportation from school to Schools Division Office, human violence, availability of temporary learning spaces, level of poverty, and availability of basic amenities and services, such as telecommunication, water, and electricity. These factors created a SHA that is streamlined to be more efficient and objective.
On an empirical basis, the pandemic worsens the adversities as it includes the need for load allowances, needed gadgets for online learning, and the accessibility of the Internet. If identified hardships are to be added to the guidelines, most teachers will be in dire need of SHA.
While it is beneficial to eligible teachers, it cannot be ignored that there is a need to regain the trust that caused rifts between the DepEd and the public school teachers due to the flaws of the old guidelines. A clear breakdown and explanation of the new guideline should ensure a trouble-free transaction to receive the allowance.
A teacher portraying quality teaching is not defined by sustained allowances but it is boosted when the efforts are honored. (RUSTOM A. VELASCO)