The Senate has approved on third and final reading a bill that would institute services for learners with disabilities in support of inclusive education. For Senator Win Gatchalian, sponsor and co-author of the measure, this is a major step forward in ensuring that learners with disabilities are not left behind in the basic education sector’s better normal.
At the heart of Senate Bill No. 1907 or the “Instituting Services for Learners with Disabilities in Support of Inclusive Education Act” is the declaration that no learner with disability shall be denied admission and inclusion in any public or private basic education institution.
Under the proposed measure, the provision of educational opportunities to learners with disabilities will be in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the UNESCO Convention Against Discrimination in Education, the Incheon Strategy to Make the Rights Real for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific, and the Alternative Learning System Act (Republic Act No. 11510).
The proposed measure seeks to establish and maintain at least one Inclusive Learning Resource Center (ILRC) in all cities and municipalities. Among the services that ILRCs will offer are 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.
ILRCs will implement the Child Find System (CFS) to ensure that all learners with disabilities who are not receiving basic education services are identified, located, and evaluated to facilitate their inclusion in the general education system.
Multidisciplinary teams composed of professionals and experts such as special needs teachers, educational psychologists, guidance counselors, psychometricians, developmental pediatricians, physical therapists, and speech and language therapists, among others, will staff these ILRCs.
While the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) estimates that more than 5 million Filipino children are living with disabilities, there were only an estimated 439,700 learners with disabilities enrolled in DepEd schools for SY 2019-2020.
Gatchalian also thanked the co-authors of the measure: Senators Pia Cayetano, Manuel “Lito” Lapid, Sonny Angara, Cynthia Villar, Joel Villanueva, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr., Nancy Binay, Risa Hontiveros, and Majority Leader Miguel “Migz” Zubiri. Other co-authors include Senators Christopher “Bong” Go, Richard Gordon, Leila De Lima, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, and Francis Tolentino.