In fostering the recovery of the education sector from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, re-electionist Senator Win Gatchalian vowed to seek adequate support for the country’s marginalized learners.
Gatchalian pointed out that enrollment among learners with disabilities and Alternative Learning System (ALS) learners are yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. For the chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, this presses the need to bring education opportunities more accessible to these learners, noting that they were already struggling before the pandemic hit.
There are 202,603 ALS learners enrolled for the current School Year 2021-2022, which is 73% lower than the pre-pandemic figure of 759,723 for School Year 2019-2020. For the current school year, enrollment among learners with disabilities is at 93,895, 74% lower than the 360,879 enrolled for School Year 2019-2020.
“Bago pa tumama ang pandemya, malaking hamon na ang hinaharap ng ating mga learners with disabilities at ng ating mga mag-aaral sa ALS. Sa pagbangon ng sektor ng edukasyon mula sa pandemya, kailangan nating tiyakin na hindi sila mapag-iiwanan at matutugunan natin ang kanilang mga pangangailangan,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian is the principal author and sponsor of the Alternative Learning System Act (Republic Act No. 11510). ALS provides opportunities for out-of-school children in special cases and adult learners to develop basic and functional literacy and life skills.
Out-of-school children in special cases include learners with disabilities or conditions, indigenous peoples, children in conflict with the law, learners in emergency situations, and other marginalized sectors.
Gatchalian is also the sponsor and a co-author of the measure entitled “Instituting a Policy of Inclusion and Services for Learners with Disabilities in Support of Inclusive Education Act.”
Once enacted into law, the Department of Education (DepEd), in collaboration with local government units (LGUs), shall initially establish and maintain at least one Inclusive Learning Resource Center of Learners with Disabilities (ILRC) in each city and municipality in the country. ILRCs will serve as a one-stop shop for the delivery of free support services to learners with disabilities and the local implementation of various inclusive education programs.