House OKs bill protecting 'kaliwete' students

Good news for all students who are kaliwete.

The House Committee on Basic Education, Culture and the Arts, in a joint hearing with the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education chaired by Reps. Ramon Durano VI (5th District, Cebu) and Paolo Javier (Lone District, Antique), respectively, approved a bill, as amended, which seeks to provide relief to left-handed students.

House Bill 7109 or the “Mandatory Provision for Left-Handed Armchairs in Educational Institutions Act” introduced by Rep. Cristina Roa-Puno (1st District, Antipolo City) aims to require educational institutions all over the country to provide left-handed armchairs.

Roa-Puno explained that, currently, left-handed students have no choice but to use right-handed armchairs.

She said that being a left-hander herself, she had experienced how hard it was to twist one’s body to be able to write notes legibly using a right-hander armchair.

“At the end of the school day, it is not unusual for a left-handed student to feel pain in the back and neck and sometimes even shoulders because of the difficulty that they experience in writing with a right-handed armchair,” she said.

Roa-Puno cited a study which stated that no less than 10 percent of the world population is left handed.

She said that currently, the Department of Education (DepEd) provides two armchairs for every 40 to 45 students in public schools in the elementary, junior and senior high schools.

“That’s five percent of the student population in public elementary and high schools while the private schools are left wanting for left-handed armchairs,” Roa-Puno said.

The bill provides that it shall be obligatory for all educational institutions, both private and public to provide such number of left-handed armchairs equivalent to at least 10 percent of the student population who are left-handed.
Education Undersecretary Tonisito Umali confirmed that it is the policy of the DepEd to procure at least two left-handed chairs for every 40 to 45 students pursuant to 2007 Physical Facilities Manual Operations.

“We are presently reviewing this manual and we interpose no objection, we don’t object to the measure and we recognize, precisely that is the reason why we had that ratio, so a 10 percent of the number of students left-hand to the total number of student ratio would be very, very reasonable.” Umali said.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for its part interposed no objection, adding that the measure has no budgetary implications and that it talks more of the procurement side which is on the part of the DepEd.

Umali raised the possibility of a change in the classroom set-up in the future which will no longer require the use of individual armchair in the classroom.

“With this legislation it may be construed that we are mandated by law to still procure something to the effect like without prejudice to the DepEd’s policy on the procurement of armchairs.”

The panel proposed an amendment to the bill to make it more flexible.

The amendment to the bill reads: “It shall be obligatory on all educational institutions, both private and public, that make use of armchairs in the classrooms to provide such number of left-handed armchairs equivalent to at least ten percent (10%) of the student population.”

SOURCE: Ma. Victoria Palomar (2018). House approves bill requiring left-handed armchairs in all public and private schools. Press Releases. House of Representatives, 17th Congress. 19 November 2018 08:15:35 PM.