Senator Chiz Escudero is pushing inclusive education among children and youth with special needs (CYSNs) in the country, saying these kids should be allowed to join regular schools.

Escudero said providing equitable opportunities for all students, including children with special needs, particularly access to education services, is essential while also taking into consideration the specific needs and capabilities of the children.

“While we acknowledge the fact that they are in need of special education and care, children and youth with special needs should also be given the chance to live like any other children in our country. It would be best to educate them in such a way that they will be able to interact and learn with children their age,” Escudero said.

CYSNs are with children with exceptionalities, including those who are gifted or talented, with intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, physical or health disabilities, speech and language disorders, emotional or behavioral disorders, hearing and/or visual impairments, autism, deaf, blindness, and multiple handicapping conditions, who are in need of special education needs as well as rehabilitation services.

Data from the Department of Education (DepEd) showed that out of the more than 5.5 million, 40,000 children with special needs are currently enrolled in public elementary schools in the country. Moreover, there are less than 500 special education centers nationwide, according to DepEd Undersecretary Dina Ocampo.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, said a policy addressing the need for inclusivity in the education system is not only necessary but fair and just since most of the schools in the country, both private or public, are unable to cater to the needs of CYSNs.

“Our current public education structure lacks the necessary tools and resources in better assisting children and youth with special needs in their learning environment and the role of the government is to provide the essential devices and employ the right people who will aid them to do well in a natural learning environment,” the veteran lawmaker said.

In a hearing of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, Senate Bill No. 996 which is pushing for inclusive education for CYSNs filed by Senator Win Gatchalian, was designated as the working draft and will be consolidated with Senate bill numbers 78, 1296, 1331 and 468.

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