Advocacy, civil society groups laud education bill for learners with disabilities

July 23, 2021 - 10:28 PM
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Image by Gino Crescoli via Pixabay

In celebration of the 43rd National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week, various groups praised the bill that seeks to promote the access of learners with disabilities (LWDs) to education.

“Thank you to the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, led by its Chairman, Senator Win Gatchalian, who championed the rights and welfare of learners with disabilities by painstakingly holding consultations and collaboration with stakeholders towards the creation and approval in the Senate of the Senate Bill 1907,” said Flora Arellano, President of the Civil Society Network for Education Reforms (E-Net Philippines) during the InkluNasyon weekly Facebook live program.

“No child with a disability who wants to go to school will again be turned away or gets left behind,” said Sen. Win Gatchalian, one of the authors of the Senate Bill 1907 or Instituting Services for LWDs bill.

If passed into law, the bill would require public and private schools to capacitate themselves to accept learners with disabilities, said Gatchalian.

The bill would also require each city and municipality to put up at least one inclusive learning resource center for learners with special needs. This would convert existing special education centers into ILRCs.

Another key feature of the bill is the institutionalization of the Child Find System, a database that tracks learners with disabilities so they can be included in the general basic education system.

The bill would also allow learners with special needs to have an individualized education plan designed to cater to their specific needs.

The Bicameral conference committee is working on reconciling the two versions of the bill and is expected to be signed into law in the opening of the 19th Congress.

The bill was crafted in cooperation with various civil society and disability advocacy groups such as the E-Net Philippines, Philippine Coalition for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Philippine Federation of the Deaf, Philippine Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled, Deaf Blind Support Philippines and NORFIL Foundation, among others. —James Patrick Cruz