Senator Win Gatchalian has vowed to ensure that learners with disabilities will receive funding support under the 2023 national budget.
Gatchalian made this statement after the proposed budget of P532 million for the Special Education (SPED) was not considered in the proposed National Expenditure Program (NEP).
The lawmaker emphasized the need for the government to implement Republic Act No. 11650 entitled “Instituting a Policy of Inclusion and Services for Learners with Disabilities in Support of Inclusive Education Act,” which was signed into law last March. Under the law, all public and private schools shall ensure equitable access to quality education to every learner with disability, such that no learner shall be denied admission on the basis of disability.
“Maraming paraan upang mabigyan natin ng suporta ang mga kabataang may kapansanan. ‘Yan ang higit na kailangan nila ngayon lalo na’t nagdulot ng malaking hamon sa kanila ang nakaraang higit na dalawang taon ng pandemya ng COVID-19. Titiyakin nating hindi maiiwan ang ating mga mag-aaral na may kapansanan sa pagbangon ng sektor ng edukasyon,” said Gatchalian.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education emphasized that learners with disabilities are among the hardest hit when the COVID-19 pandemic led to school closures. Gatchalian pointed out that for School year 2021-2022, there were 126,598 learners with disabilities enrolled in DepEd schools as of March 14, 2022. This is 65% lower than the 360,879 recorded for SY 2019-2020.
RA 11650, Gatchalian said, mandates that at least one Inclusive Learning Resource Center of Learners with Disabilities (ILRC) shall be initially maintained and established in every city and municipality. The DepEd, in coordination with LGUs, shall maintain and establish these ILRCs, which will deliver free support services to learners with disabilities and implement inclusive education programs.
Multidisciplinary teams composed of experts such as developmental pediatricians, physical therapists, speech and language therapists, special needs teachers, and other allied medical professionals will man these ILRCs.