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Special ed centers in public schools needed

VALENZUELA CITY, Philippines – A student walks with her parent at Gen. T de Leon Elementary School in this city, as seen in this 18 March 2015 file image, when the school held its graduation ceremony for 27 children with special learning needs. With the help of their six teachers and two occupational therapists, 12 of those children were promoted to high school while the rest will move up to grade one. Senator Win Gatchalian is now pushing the government to make his special education advocacy programs a national policy with his Inclusive Education for Children and Youth with Special Needs Act. Photo by RODRIGO DE GUZMAN//OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Senator Win Gatchalian wants to establish special education centers in all public schools in the country to promote inclusive education and enable schools to effectively handle the needs of children and youth with disabilities and other special needs.

In filing Senate Bill No. 171 or the Inclusive Education for Children and Youth with Special Needs Act, Gatchalian said the government needs to build upon the existing infrastructure of the national public school system to provide services to as many Filipino children with special needs.

“This could be done by establishing Inclusive Education Learning Resource Centers in all public schools divisions nationwide,” he said. “The SPED Centers shall function as a resource center that shall assist in promoting inclusive education to capacitate regular schools to effectively handle the needs of children and youth with disability.”

The lawmaker added that each center will also be equipped with the facilities and personnel necessary to provide care and instruction to children and youth with special needs, specifically special education teachers and other specialists.

According to Gatchalian, estimates from the Department of Education indicate that as of School Year (SY) 2016-2017, there are approximately 303,109 Filipino children in public schools with special education needs.

“Physical, cognitive, psychological, and/or communication disabilities prevent them from fully participating in regular schools, he said.

“Moreover, the regular schools, whether public or private, are often incapable of providing these children with the care, attention, and guidance that they require for the development of their physical, cognitive, and social skills,” he added.

The senator noted that given the current setup, as of SY 2016-2017, there were around 303,000 children with special needs enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools who may have not been provided with the needed education and care.

“Much remains to be done in addressing the gap with respect to the provision of special education in the country,” he stressed.

“Every child has the right to an education commensurate with his abilities and to the development of his skills for the improvement of his capacity for service to himself and to his fellowmen,” Gatchalian added.