Following the announcement that the regular enrollment period for School Year 2021-2022 will start next week, August 16, Senator Win Gatchalian seeks a more aggressive and efficient implementation of the “Child Find System” (CFS) to identify, locate, and evaluate more learners with disabilities who are not receiving basic education services.
Gatchalian took note that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, learners with disabilities were already struggling to be part of the country’s general education system. While the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) estimated that more than 5 million children in the Philippines are living with disabilities, only about 439,700 learners with disabilities were enrolled in DepEd schools for School Year 2019-2020.
The pandemic even exacerbated challenges hounding the learners with disabilities. Based on Save the Children’s “Rapid Survey on the Situation of Children with Disabilities in the Context of COVID-19” conducted in May 2020, 48 percent of 4,066 participants said they could not access education services because of quarantine measures.
In Senate Bill (SB) No. 1907 or the “Instituting Services for Learners with Disabilities in Support of Inclusive Education Act”, Gatchalian said that the proposed Inclusive Learning Resource Center of Learners with Disabilities (ILRC) is tasked with implementing the CFS.
At the heart of SB No. 1907 is the mandate of an Inclusive Education or the concept that no learner with disability shall be denied admission and inclusion in any public or private basic education institution.
“Sa pamamagitan ng inclusive education, matutulungan natin ang mga mag-aaral na may kapansanan na makatanggap ng dekalidad na edukasyon at sapat na mga serbisyo. Sa panahong itinataguyod natin ang new o better normal, walang mag-aaral ang dapat mapag-iiwanan dahil sa kanilang kapansanan,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.
Under the proposed measure, at least one ILRC will be established and maintained in every city and municipality. Aside from implementing the CFS, these ILRCs will offer services such as linguistic solutions for deaf learners’ concerns, speech-language pathology and audiology services, physical and occupational therapy, counseling and rehabilitation, and medical and transportation services, among others.
The proposed ILRCs will be staffed by a multidisciplinary team composed of professionals including special education teachers, psychologists, guidance counselors, social workers, interpreters, and other allied medical professionals.