This website requires JavaScript.

Enrollment Of Learners With Disabilities Still Low This Year – Gatchalian

Enrollment Of Learners With Disabilities Still Low This Year – Gatchalian
Students participate in a simulation of face-to-face classes at the Comembo Elementary School in Makati City on Dec. 2, 2021. A total of 28 schools in Metro Manila will be part of 177 schools that will participate in the pilot in-person classes this week. Photo by KJ Rosales, The Philippine STAR

The number of learners with disabilities enrolled in basic education remains far from pre-pandemic levels – a disturbing development the government must address immediately as part of efforts to help the country recover from the global health crisis, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said on Sunday, Dec. 5.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on basic education, said COVID-19 recovery efforts should uphold the welfare of children and learners with disabilities as the world observed the International Day of Persons with Disabilities last Friday, Dec. 3.

Data from the Department of Education (DepEd) showed that out of the estimated 444,294 children with disabilities (CWDs), only 112,810 are enrolled in 2021.

Although this is slightly higher than the 111,521 enrolled in 2020 with an estimated CWD population of 437,598, it’s lower than the 360,879 enrolled in 2019 with an estimated population of 431,004, he noted.

Following the bicameral conference committee’s approval on the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill No. 1907 and House Bill No. 8080 – measures seeking to institutionalize services and programs for learners with disabilities – challenges such as accessibility to basic facilities, infrastructure and transportation could soon be a thing of the past, Gatchalian said.

“With this proposed law for a more inclusive education, we can ensure that learners with disabilities will not be left behind,” the senator said in Filipino.

The reconciled version of the bill, which is titled “Instituting a Policy of Inclusion and Services for Learners with Disabilities in Support of Inclusive Education Act,” mandates that no learner shall be denied admission in any public or private school on the basis of disability, ensuring access to quality education to every learner with disability.

Under the measure, the DepEd in collaboration with local government units will initially establish and maintain at least one Inclusive Learning Resource Center of Learners with Disabilities (ILRC) in every city and municipality.

ILRCs may also be established in every school district based on the measure’s multi-year roadmap or as resources may allow.

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.

These services include linguistic solutions for deaf learners’ concerns, psychological services, and physical and occupational therapy.

These ILRCs will also be tasked to implement the Child Find System to identify, locate and evaluate all learners with disabilities who are not receiving basic education services.