The Senate education committee has reported out for plenary approval a bill that seeks to widen the access to quality education for children with special needs.
Senate Bill 1732 or the Inclusive Education for Children and Youth with Special Needs bill aims to establish Inclusive Education Learning Resource Centers in every public school division in the country.
“All children with special needs should have the opportunity to learn and be developed in the most enhancing environment. It is our duty to provide them free, appropriate, and quality education that best meets their needs.
“Hindi dapat maging hadlang ang kanilang kalagayan, lalung-lalo na ang kahirapan, para sila ay makapasok sa eskwelahan,” said Senator Sonny Angara, who co-authored and co-sponsored the measure.
Neither disability nor poverty should stop children from going to school.
Under the bill, children and youth with special needs refer to those who are gifted or talented, with disabilities or special health problems.
Based on the data from the Department of Education (DepEd), at present, there is a total of 648 special education (SPED) centers and regular schools offering the program—471 of which are catering to elementary students and 177 are for high school students.
The DepEd has recorded around 250,000 enrollees at the elementary level and around 100,000 at the high school level in School Year 2015-2016.
However, DepEd said there are only 2,600 elementary SPED teachers and 280 high school SPED teachers.
SB 1732 mandates the DepEd to ensure that Inclusive Education Centers shall attract the best available teaching staff by enhancing the right of teachers to professional advancement through adequate pay, incentives and allowances, scholarship and training grants, among others.
Parents, siblings, and caregivers of children with special needs should also be equipped with working knowledge of special education, an understanding of the psychology of children with special needs, and the awareness of their crucial role as educators.
Parents, siblings, and caregivers of children with special needs should also be equipped with working knowledge of special education.
“Hindi lang ang mga estudyanteng may special needs ang matutulungan kundi pati na rin ang mga kapamilya nila – ang direktang tutulong sa pagbuo ng kanilang pagkatao at paglinang sa kanilang kakayahan,” Angara said.