Senator Win Gatchalian said that establishing Special Education (SPED) Centers in all public school divisions will help address a think tank study’s call on the government, especially the Department of Education (DepEd), to make quality education accessible to children and youth with disabilities or special needs.
According to a Philippine Institute for Development Studies discussion paper presented at a research forum on inclusive education, “accessibility to basic facilities, infrastructures and transportation remains a major challenge to persons with disabilities.” One out of seven or 5.1 million Filipino children are living with disabilities, estimates from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) show.
Around 84 percent of municipalities in the Philippines do not have SPED centers according to the Basic Education Sector Transformation (BEST) Program, a joint undertaking on quality education by the governments of the Philippines and Australia. Records from the DepEd show that there are currently 648 regular schools and SPED Centers nationwide. Out of the 648,471 are for elementary and 177 for high school.
“Ang abot-kaya at dekalidad na edukasyon ang isa sa mga nagbibigay ng oportunidad at pag-asa sa ating mga kabataang may kapansanan. Sa panukala nating magpatayo ng mga SPED centers sa mga lugar na nangangailangan nito, maibibigay natin sa mga kabataang may kapansanan ang uri at kalidad ng edukasyon na angkop sa kanilang mga pangangailangan,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian proposed the establishment of SPED or Inclusive Education Learning Resource Centers in Senate Bill 171 or the Inclusive Education for Children and Youth with Special Needs Act. The proposed measure also seeks to provide trainings on disability awareness and inclusive education for stakeholders involved in the care and instruction of learners with special needs. These include regular teachers, administrators, non-teaching personnel, and parents.
“Maliban sa pagkakaroon ng programa para sa mga kabataang may kapansanan, mahalaga ring masiguro na may sapat na kagamitan ang bawat SPED center at ang mga taong nagpapatupad ng programang ito ay dapat may sapat na kakayahan,” Gatchalian added.