Senate Bill 1427 by Senator Loren Legarda aims to provide educational opportunities, particularly pre-elementary and elementary education, to children with disabilities (CWD) through Special Educational Centers or SECs. The intention for these SECs is to eventually integrate CWDs into regular school.
The Department of Education (DepEd) as well as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will be spearheading the establishment of the SECs and will also be coming up with appropriate teaching methods depending on the aptitude of the students.
A Special Education Development Fund will also be set up to help finance the SECs. Certain students will get access to tuition fees, text books and transportation allowances.
According to a study by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, only 2 percent of CWDs are enrolled in formal educational institutions. Another fact to note is that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 10 percent of Pinoys have some form of disability, which can be physical or orthopedic in nature (autism, blindness, deafness, muteness, etc.).
Said Legarda, “As many as nine million Filipinos suffer from disability, and we lack the government support even for the most basic of rights as free education for handicapped children.”
The senator also added, “Disability also disproportionately afflicts the poor due to various environmental factors that they are exposed to, and that is why we need the government to step in and provide support for this highly disadvantaged and vulnerable group who cannot afford specialized education. We cannot rely solely on the remarkable efforts from cause-oriented groups and charitable organizations that aid children with disabilities,”
At present, the Philippines has 94 SPED institutions, 14 of which are in schools, and 2 are in hospital schools. There are about 4,292 SPED classes in public schools.
Sources: • July 13, 2011. Alexander Villafania. “Bill seeks free education for special children” Ph.News.Yahoo.com • July 12, 2011. Mark James Racadio. “Senate Bill 1427 proposed by Loren Legarda for Children with Disabilities” DigitalInquirer.com • July 12, 2011. “Free educ for ‘special’ kids pushed Journal.com.ph • July 11, 2011. “Legarda Wants Free Special Education for Children with Disabilities” Senate.gov.ph