Learners with disabilities will receive funding support under the 2023 national budget, Senator Win Gatchalian assures.
Gatchalian cited his proposals that were carried in the bicameral conference committee report on the 2023 national budget. One of his proposals is to add P64 million to the Department of Education’s (DepEd) P96 million-budget for the conversion of Special Education (SPED) centers to Inclusive Learning Resource Centers for Learners with Disabilities (ILRCs). The total amount of P160 million under the DepEd’s capital outlay will allow each region to convert at least one SPED center into a model ILRC.
The bicam report also carried Gatchalian’s proposal to allocate P100 million for instructional materials for learners with disabilities. This allocation, which covers learners enrolled in both the formal system and the Alternative Learning System (ALS), includes multiple platforms using electronic and online modes of delivery.
“Magandang balita para sa ating mga learners with disabilities na nakapaglaan tayo ng pondo para sa mga programang sumusuporta sa kanila. Patuloy nating titiyakin na pagdating sa dekalidad na edukasyon at sa patuloy na pagbangon ng ating bansa mula sa pandemya ng COVID-19, hindi mapag-iiwanan ang mga learners with disabilities,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.
Gatchalian reiterated that ensuring funding support for learners with disabilities aligns with the government’s mandate to implement Republic Act No. 11650 or “Instituting a Policy of Inclusion and Services for Learners with Disabilities in Support of Inclusive Education Act” which was signed into law this year. Gatchalian sponsored the law during the 18th Congress.
Under the law, DepEd, in collaboration with local government units (LGUs), shall initially establish and maintain at least one ILRC in every city and municipality in the country. The law also mandates that all existing SPED Centers shall be converted to and renamed as ILRCs.
ILRCs are mandated to implement inclusive education programs and deliver free support services to learners with disabilities, including language and speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical and physiotherapy, provision of qualified sign language interpreters, and other similar services, aids, and actions that facilitate the learning process.