No one left out: Schools required to provide neutral desks for students

MANILA, Philippines – Thanks to a new law, left-handed students will no longer have to struggle with classroom desks meant for the right-handed.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11394 or the Mandatory Provision of Neutral Desks in Educational Institutions Act  on August 22. Malacañang released a copy of the law on Wednesday, August 28.

Under the law, the government must "promote the equal development of students, including those who are left-handed."

Section 3 of the law spells out how it will be "obligatory" for "all educational institutions, both public and private" which use armchairs for its students, to use armchairs with "neutral" desks.

Schools must provide neutral desks equivalent to 10% of the student population within one year of the law's effectivity, or 15 days after the law is published on the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general circulation. After this time period, schools must provide neutral desks to the entire student population.

The Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority are tasked to craft the rules and regulations for the law's implementation.

These rules should include administrative penalties for schools that don't comply with the policy.

Senator Sonny Angara welcomed the signing of the law and explained what left-handed students go through.

"The struggle of left-handed students is real. Many of them end up suffering from back, neck and shoulder pain when they force themselves to use the standard-issue desks," he said in a statement.

Angara cited studies which supposedly show that left-handed students tend to write slower when using right-handed desks, making it extra difficult for them during timed examinations.

Land use plan for campuses

Duterte also signed into law a measure requiring state universities and colleges to have a land use development and infrastructure plan (LUDIP) to be submitted to the CHED within two years after the act's approval.

The LUDIP is supposed to ensure that SUCs optimize the use of their land and other resources. No new infrastrucure project will be approved or implemented in an SUC without a LUDIP. 

The LUDIP must include a detailed geographic description and survey of the SUC site; inventory of all buildings facilities, and other infrastructure; cadastral survey including information on land disputes, hazards, zoning projects; description of residential areas for both faculty, staff, and dormitories for students; design and construction cost of other infrastructure needs; and a financial plan for new construction. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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