Senators push for SPED centers in schools
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - August 8, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Senators are pushing for the establishment of learning centers for children and youth with special needs in all public school divisions across the Philippines.

Senators Pia Cayetano, Sherwin Gatchalian and Bong Revilla have filed separate bills that seek to establish special education (SPED) centers to make learning in the country’s public school system inclusive.

Cayetano’s Senate Bill (SB) 69 or the proposed “Inclusive Education for Children and Youth with Special Needs Act” seeks to establish inclusive learning resource centers for children and youth with special needs (CYSNs) in all public school divisions in the country.

“Children with disabilities have the same rights as any other child. They deserve access to a kind of education system where their special needs are attended to,” Cayetano said.

Citing records from the Department of Education (DepEd), she said a majority of the country’s 5.5 million CYSNs have limited access to public education due to lack of accessibility features in schools, among other attitudinal and environmental factors.

Gatchalian, who also pushed for the establishment of such centers in his SB 171, said figures taken from the DepEd showed there are 303,109 Filipino children in public schools with special education needs.

“The SPED centers shall function as a resource center that assists in promoting inclusive education to capacitate regular schools to effectively handle the needs of children and youth with disability,” Gatchalian said.

Under his bill, each SPED center will also be equipped with the facilities and personnel necessary to provide care and instruction to children and youth with special needs, specifically special education teachers and other specialists.

“Physical, cognitive, psychological and/or communication disabilities prevent them from fully participating in regular schools, according to Gatchalian.

“Moreover regular schools, whether public or private, are often incapable of providing these children with the care, attention and guidance that they require for the development of their physical, cognitive and social skills,” he said.

Meanwhile, Revilla’s SB 804 seeks to institute inclusive education by establishing learning centers for children and youth with special needs in all public school divisions in the country.

He said a 2018 report by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. revealed that one out of seven or 5.1 million children in the country live with disabilities.

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