A group has called on the Department of Education (DepEd) to reconsider its directive regarding "bare classroom walls" and to grant teachers more autonomy in managing their classrooms and teaching methods.




"We request that DepEd reconsider this directive in light of the diverse learning needs of our children and the pedagogical approaches of teachers," said Teachers' Dignity Coalition (TDC) Spokesperson Noel Galvez said in a statement issued Thursday, Sept. 7

“Let us look beyond what our eyes can see,” said Galvez who is also a teacher at the Antipolo Special Education (SPED) Center.

Galvez, who is also visually impaired himself, specializes in educating learners with special needs, including those with visual impairments.

DepEd, under the leadership of Vice President Sara Duterte, who holds the position of Education Secretary in a concurrent capacity, instructed teachers and public schools to ensure that classrooms are "clean" before the start of the 2023-2024 school year on Aug. 29.

Before the commencement of classes, DepEd emphasized that classroom walls should be clean and asked teachers to remove all items and “take out everything.”



No clear basis

In its directive, DepEd stressed that the order is "absolute," applying to all teachers in any school, for any subject, and at any grade level. There are no exemptions, and teachers who fail to comply with the directive may face administrative sanctions.

TDC raised concerns about DepEd's directive, stating, "This is very disturbing, as there is no clear basis for such an absolute order."

Galvez also noted the "contradictory results" from some studies regarding the usefulness of educational posters or decorations in classrooms. "If the arguments on both sides are nearly equal, is the order necessary? No, it is not," TDC questioned.



While DepEd’s directive focuses on the goal of making classrooms comfortable and not penalizing teachers, TDC raised concerns on the matter.

“This is very disturbing, as there is no clear basis for such an absolute order,” TDC said in a statement.

Galvez also pointed out that there were “contradictory results” from some studies about the usefulness of educational posters or even decorations in our classrooms.

“If the arguments on both sides are nearly equal, is the order necessary? No, it is not,” TDC asked. 

Helping the students

For TDC, educational posters in the classroom and the use of instructional materials “can be regulated but cannot be directed by anyone, including the principal, supervisor, or superintendent, let alone the Education Secretary.”

Citing the academic freedom principle of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers and the Constitution, TDC argued that “classroom instruction, particularly its method, should be left up to the discretion of the teacher.”

“And if anyone who violates the DepEd order is punished, it is equivalent to punishing the teacher who was simply doing his job,” TDC said. “Our teachers are already overburdened by regulations and this one should not be added,” it added.

While TDC agreed that decluttering classrooms may allow students to “concentrate more on their studies,” but more importantly, other issues should be addressed first.

These “distraction-causing issues” that need to be addressed urgently include malnutrition, overcrowding in classrooms, a shortage of school facilities and instructional materials, a lack of teachers, and the “various unnecessary” clerical tasks our teachers perform are all contributing factors.



Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2023/9/7/dep-ed-urged-to-reconsider-very-disturbing-directive-on-bare-classroom-walls)