The SPED Act or, SPECIAL EDUCATION ACT had its fundamental beginnings when provisions were written into law in the 1987 Philippine Constitution by two acts. Article II Section 17 indicates that the State must give priority to education, whereas Article XIV Section 1 indicates that education be provided equally and accessibly for all, and that adequate steps be taken to achieve this goal. From that period until today, a few moves were made, such as the creation of the Special Education Division of the Department of Education, and most recently the most productive step forward, the pending ratification of House Bill 82, or the SPED ACT, principally authored by Tarlac Second District Rep. Susan Yap-Sulit.
The Department of Education estimates that 13% of the student population (around 5.5 miliion individuals) have aforesaid “special needs”. Of this figure, 1.27 million are “gifted” or especially talented children, while Persons with Disabilities or PWDs comprise 4.2 million.
Referring to the 2007 version of the Special Education Act, the following groups are identified: 1. Gifted children and fast learners 2. Mentally handicapped/mentally retarded 3. Visually impaired 4. Hearing impaired 5. Children with behavior problems 6. Orthopedically handicapped 7. Children with special health problems 8. Children with learning disabilities (perceptual handicap, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia) 9. Speech impaired 10. Persons with Autism
According to this law, a child with the above characteristics should be taught by accredited SPED centers, by SPED certified instructors to ensure their academic and social well being. The Vision of the Department of Education’s Special Education Division indicates that a child with special needs be “adequately provided with basic education, fully realize his/her own potentials for development and productivity, as well as being capable of self expression of his/her rights in society” as well as being “God loving and proud of being Filipino”.