Teachers, students weigh in on Sara’s memo on bare classroom walls 

Sep. 02, 2023

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The opening of classes in 430 public schools went smoothly and peacefully in Davao City on Monday, except for one glaring difference as 402,055 students see their classrooms bare from the usual visual aids on their walls after Education Secretary Vice President Sara Duterte ordered classroom walls to be bare and to “take out everything” including visual learning aids.

Students of Santa Ana National High School in Magsaysay Avenue noted that the absence of learning materials on the classroom walls was refreshing to the eyes. However, they are uncertain if this new approach would aid their concentration and enhance their learning experience.

“Makapanibago sya kay limpyo kaayo ang mga wall pero makamiss pud yung may mabasa-basa kami lalo na pag need naming maalala yung mga lessons, (It’s different because the walls are clean but we miss seeing things we can read there that remind us of our lessons,” said Grace, a junior high school student.

“Tingin ko kay helpful din yung wala masyadong distraction sa eyes lalo na yung malapit sa board pero masyado din dry yung wala talaga na kaming makita sa walls. Parang somehow maka aid man din yun sa aming learning, like nasanay kami and it helps sa aming memorization (I think it is helpful since there won’t be distraction to the eyes especially those near the board. But somehow these aid us in our learning, we are used to it and it helps in memorization),” third year high school student Khelzy said.

In an interview with Mary Ann Villaluz, a teacher from Magallanes Elementary School, she emphasized the importance of using visual aids to help young learners become familiar with and understand their lessons. Visual aids also help students feel more comfortable and at ease while at school.

“Hinlo sya tan-awon pero ang mga bata mahilig man na sila magtan-aw og mga pictures so mao pa na among obserbahan karon. Kung ako lang gusto nako naa pa unta tong bisan mga letters kay makatabang sya ilabina daghan ang visual learner (The walls look clean but the pupils like to see pictures, so we observe for now,  If you ask me, I  wish we could retain the alphabet visual because it helps them, especially a lot of them are visual learners),” she said.

Villaluz said that to ensure learning, teachers will provide visual materials by using videos, flashcards, and effective teaching approaches as mandated by the Department of Education (DepEd). 

DepEd Order No. 21 released in the first week of August provides the guidelines for this year’s Brigada Eskwela that requires schools to clear school grounds, classrooms and all its walls of “unnecessary artwork, decorations, tarpaulin and posters.”   

Duterte later said in media interviews that schools must remove “everything” adorning classroom walls, and in one Brigada Eskwela she participated, she initiated the removal of decorations.

But the head of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)-Davao City, Reynaldo Pardillo, said in a media interview that the idea of clearing classroom waIIs does not guarantee students’ focus and better performance in class.  

“(In) my opinion (when students see many) visual aids (in the) classroom the more (they) retain (what they learn). And if there is a wall or art wall then all the achievements or artworks will be displayed as a form of accomplishment. And some of the visual aids support and supplement the learning process, which might lead to motivating our learners. Another thing that needs to be addressed is the class size, classrooms should be conducive by supplying electric fans, lighting, and non-teaching jobs,” Pardillo said.

Pardillo lamented that most teachers had already prepared their classrooms with visual aids before the start of Brigada Eskwela only to have them taken down after  Duterte’s memo.

The ACT-Davao leader said the vice president/ education secretary should address perennial problems in public schools.

“(Another) thing that needs to be addressed is the class size, classrooms should be conducive by supplying electric fans, lighting, and non-teaching jobs,” he pointed out.

The DepEd Learner Information System (LIS) recorded that there are 1,188,945 students enrolled in both public and private schools in Davao Region this school year, an 83.4 percent increase compared to last year’s enrollment count.

Davao City has the highest number of enrolled students in the region, with a total of 402,055 and a percentage of 84.70 of its total targets of enrollees for this school year.

This is followed by the provinces of Davao de Oro with 87% (182,735), Davao del Norte with 75.74% (101,963), Davao del Sur with 79.40% (99,470), Davao Occidental with 73.05% (63,659), Davao Oriental 77.46% (96,298), Digos City with 89.22% (48,615), IGACOS with 82.46% (26,435), Mati City with 87.87% (39,654), Panabo City with 92.34% (54,361) and Tagum City with 92.63% (73,700).(davaotoday.com)

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