Senator Pia Cayetano has filed a new bill that aims to establish inclusive learning resource centers for children and youth with special needs (CYSNs) in all public school divisions in the Philippines.
“This bill aims to address and remove all barriers to allow CYSNs to participate in the regular school system,” Sen. Cayetano said in a statement, as reported by GMA News.
Data from the Department of Education (DepEd) show that a significant majority of the 5.5 million CYSNs in the country have limited access to public education due to factors such as lack of accessibility features in schools.
Sen. Cayetano conceptualized Senate Bill No. 69, also known as the Inclusive Education for Children and Youth with Special Needs Act, with special education stakeholders during her tenure as chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts, and Culture in the 16th Congress.
“Children with disabilities have the same rights as any other child,” Sen. Cayetano stated in a statement on her official website. “They deserve access to a kind of education system where their special needs are attended to.
“They deserve to learn in an environment with compassion and understanding, and where they can grow as productive members of the community.”
The inclusive learning resource centers to be established under SBN 69 will assist regular schools in promoting inclusive education and enabling them to handle the needs of CYSNs effectively. The other provisions of SBN 69 include:
- the provision of equitable educational opportunities to CYSNs
- empowerment of parents and relatives of CYSNs with training and information
- formation of an Inter-Agency Coordinating Council on Inclusive Education (IACCIE), which is responsible for integrating and harmonizing policies about inclusive education
- establishment of child development centers (CDCs) near all schools or within existing inclusive education learning resource centers. This can help parents identify disabilities or special needs of their children at an early age and where the necessary intervention programs can be administered.