Bong Go backs bill for inclusive education

During the Senate session on Monday, November 23, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go expressed his support for and intent to co-author a measure that guarantees and facilitates the rights of learners with disabilities to inclusive education.

In his speech, the Senator urged government to maintain its commitment to ensuring that all learners, regardless of their abilities and disabilities, have the right to access quality education without discrimination.

“Education is a constitutionally enshrined right which the State must protect and promote. Thus, ensuring education for all should be a top priority. For this to be achieved, it is vital that opportunities to learn and receive quality education are accessible to all those who so desire,” he said.

Senate Bill No. 1907, also known as an Act Instituting Services and Programs for Learners with Disabilities in Support of Inclusive Education, aims to do this by providing free support services as well as programs that are specifically tailored to the needs of differently-abled learners.

These programs and services will be delivered through Inclusive Learning Resource Centers (ILRCs) which will be established in every municipality and city throughout the country.

Satellite ILRCs may also be set up in schools while existing special education centers will be converted into ILRCs. Each ILRC will be staffed with teachers with special training, teacher aides, licensed social workers and other allied professionals who are trained to interact with and instruct learners with disabilities.

To enhance the quality of education, the bill directs schools, child development centers and ILRCs to develop Individualized Education Plans (IEP) to meet the unique educational needs of each learner.

The IEP will seek to develop the talents and strengths of a learner with the aim of achieving the greatest possible self-sufficiency and independent living.

The IEPs shall be prepared by a multi-disciplinary team composed of relevant specialists, such as an educational psychologist, speech and language therapist and neurological psychiatrist, among others.

Just as importantly, the measure directs the centers to implement the Child Find System (CFS).

The CFS is a system for locating and evaluating learners with disabilities who have not received basic education services, and facilitating their inclusion into the general education system.

Finally, a Bureau of Inclusive Education under the Department of Education shall be created to implement the provisions of the measure, adopt a national policy on inclusive education, and prepare update a multi-year roadmap.

The bureau will be primarily responsible for monitoring the operations and assessing the performance of the ILRCs and partner schools.

Continuing his speech, the Senator recognized Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, the sponsor of the bill, for taking the lead in pushing for the measure to broaden and enhance access to quality education in the country.

Go also expressed his intent to co-author the bill.

“We must aim to make education not only inclusive but responsive as well. I commend the good sponsor for pushing for this measure and would like to request that I be made co-author of the same,” ended Go.