All posts by maengeng

Challenges in Educating PWDs

Disability is regarded as a punishment from God in Indonesia.

And in Taiwan, only PWDs with “mild” conditions are being helped.

In South Africa and Malaysia, the teachers lack skills and knowledge. In South Korea, the teachers know no culturally relevant curricula.

The situation in the Philippines is not better. Of the 649 special education centers that its education department recognizes, only 471 can cater to elementary students with only 2,600 elementary SPED teachers and 177 to high school students with only 280 high school SPED teachers.

Its teachers also do not have any special needs training, its school buildings are not all wheelchair-accessible, and the books and hearing aid resources are not always enough. This insufficiency could be the reason why only 2% of the targeted 2.2 million PWDs in the country would go to school.

So what could be done that wouldn’t cost much money? Well, as I pointed out in my previous post, “what persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the Philippines need now is a chance for education.” Education Secretary Leonor Briones has already done something about this through DepEd Order No. 3 series of 2018, which is based on the “Basic Education Enrollment Policy”. It’s the other Filipinos’ turn now to do their part.

Note: I also have suggested  integrating special education in both the primary and secondary curriculum (it has been the case at the the Carmona National High School–CNHS–in Cavite) and have sign language taught in schools.

Turning Five!

What persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the Philippines need now is a chance for education.

I didn’t realize that when I started this blog on this day five years ago; I just wanted to do something for my kind then. It helped that I get to “write” in the process — the only ability my second brain operation had left me able to do.

Writing in the blog wasn’t even my priority until a month after. Only then have I decided to write in the blog religiously, attach illustrations, and create a Facebook page about it.

I also thought of having a “theme” every day: a “PWD-friendly Sites,” which will be about a place that is a haven for PWDs that I would write for every Sunday; a “PWD Thoughts,” which will be about my opinions on certain issues involving PWDs that I would write for every Monday; a “PWD Orgs,” which will be about a group that caters to PWDs that I would write for every Tuesday; a “PWD Profiles,” which will be about a particular PWD that I would write for every Wednesday; and a “PWD-tech,” which will be about the latest innovations that could assist PWDs in their everyday lives that I would write for every Thursday.

I would also keep The PWD Forum more current by checking the news first. That’s when I would decide what I would write about in relation to my “themes.” If it happens that I wouldn’t be able to finish on the topic I have taken myself to do on a specific day though, I would keep at it till it is complete. (Example: If I am writing about a PWD organization and it is still unfinished, instead of waiting for its schedule, I will continue writing about it even though the next day isn’t its schedule anymore.)

Also, if there is no prominent PWD in the country I’m featuring, I will also just talk about a “normal” person prominent in the PWD community of that country. But if those that I’ve written to wouldn’t reply in the coming week, I will shift to the next topic.

I will also write about every PWD organization in the country I’m featuring; schedule my posts regarding a specific country every first Friday of a month so I could have more time to write on “PWD Thoughts”; take note of the personalities in the Philippines involved in  disability issues; consolidate in just one article my report on a country (I would write about a country, about a resident of that country, what disability is being addressed, and about a technology that exists to address the common cause of disability there in just one post); delete the tabs “PWD Sites,” “PWD Profiles,” “PWD Orgs,” “PWD-TECH,” and “PWD Thoughts”; send the posts from September 2017 to the respective countries’ education department; and edit the statement in the “About” section.

I changed “Video from the YouTube Channel of the _ ” to “Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the _ “, drafted a request for picture and/or comment to the posts, and looked into the settings of The PWD Forum again. I  also began to post my writings for the day in the blog’s Facebook page along with the hashtag: #writingforthegloryofGod.

But the schedule I thought of didn’t work as smoothly as I had hoped it to be even a year has already passed. I think it’s because of the other things that I won’t give up like my writing for the GMA News Online. I see it as an opportunity for me to write and help at the same time, particularly the Filipino  musicians in the UAE.

I also have finally realized that what the PWDs in the Philippines need now is a chance for education — something that Education Secretary Leonor Briones has already ordered her department to do in January 26, 2018. It’s for the PWDs now to see this opportunity as well as for the government and other stakeholders.

“Education is not just about going to school and getting a degree. It’s about widening your knowledge and absorbing the truth about life.” ~ Shakuntala Devi

Filipino PWDs this April 2019

Being able to study in an environment that allows persons with disabilities (PWDs) study alongside their non-PWD counterparts would mean nothing if PWDs wouldn’t even be able to exercise their right: their right to suffrage.
Yet “there were still some cases where PWDs go home without casting their votes due to inaccessibility of some polling areas or lack of assistance from election board officers,” commented Dr. Maureen Mata from the Alyansa ng may Kapansanang Pinoy (AKAP) in a report.
This has been evident during the 2018 barangay elections.
May kakulangan po talaga sa Comelec. Kulang na kulang po. Parang nakikita namin, 1 percent of the 100 percent that we are expecting from the government agency para ma-implement ‘yung mga patakaran,” she added.
As per the Comelec’s initial data, 270,082 PWDs and senior citizens registered to vote in 6,709 accessible clustered precincts in all regions nationwide, except for the Ilocos Region.
There are also 867 emergency accessible polling places (EAPPs) in NCR, CAR, Regions IV-A, IV-B, V, VII, and VII.

“Ang karapatan ng pagboto ay hindi magiging totoo habang ang mga magaaral na may kapansanan ay nakikipag-laban araw-araw sa isang kapaligiran na hindi siya kasali.” ~Carmen Reyes-Zubiaga

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the ABS-CBN News 

Note: During the 2016 national elections, an act that authorized Comelec to establish accessible polling places (APPs) for PWDs and senior citizens– Republic Act 10366–was implemented. It led PWD groups to dub the said election as the “first disability-inclusive elections in the history of the Philippines.”

Filipino PWDs this March 2019

Amidst the current government measure providing mandatory health coverage1 to persons with disabilities (PWDs), the US State Department has reported in its annual human rights report2 that the latter “continued to face discrimination” in 2018 since the policy crafted by the National Council for Disability Affairs that same year to help them “was not effectively enforced”.

It pointed the inaccessibility of public buildings, limited transportation access, separate education centers, lack of a clear system to inform parents of PWDs with their educational rights, lack of a well-defined procedure for reporting discrimination in education, lack of offices dedicated for PWDs in 40% local government units, and discrimination in hiring and employment.

The US State Department seemed to forget to note, though, about the Mental Health Law (Republic Act 11036) signed into law in June 20, 2018. It will integrate mental health services, promote mental health services, protect the people who availed those services, establish a mental health council in the country, and prohibit discrimination against PWDs.

In any case, this month, the province of Camarines Norte has drafted its “Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan (LDRRMP)” for the next five years. The Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) has also donated a 29-seater Toyota Coaster to the Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC). Novels, textbooks, and other printed materials currently limited in distribution and production by copyright law were secured by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) for more than three million visually-impaired Filipinos.

Occupational therapy was also legislated recently. Entitled “Philippine Occupational Therapy Law of 2018” (Republic Act 11241), it has sought to create the Professional Regulatory Board of Occupational Therapy, which will issue or cancel registration and licenses for the practice of occupational therapy.

“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” ~ Muhammad Ali

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the CNN Philippines

1The health coverage—mandated in the Republic Act 11228—will be under the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) National Health Insurance Program.

2The “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018” was produced by the US State Department on all countries receiving assistance and all United Nations member states since 1977.

Filipino PWDs this February 2019

Had there been persons with disabilities who took advantage of the early registration?

The latest data that The PWD Forum could find was from a report in February 7. A total of 760,530 incoming kindergarten, and grades 1, 7 and 11 had preregistered in public schools across the country for School Year 2019 to 2020—11 days  after the Department of Education (DepEd) announced the Early Registration Module of the Learner Information System (LIS).

About 215,363 came from Region 4-A or Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), 127,285 from the National Capital Region (Metro Manila), 69,257 from Region 8 (Eastern Visayas), and 64,972 from Region 10 (Northern Mindanao).

In 2010, most of the persons with disabilities in the country are in Region IV-A.

In any case, the secretary of the Department of Health has agreed that students should be made to understand mental health conditions.

Dapat pinapakilala na itong pagtanggal sa stigma sa eskuwelahan pa lamang para yung mga bata maintindihan na may ganitong mental health conditions na kailangan maintindihan at tugunan ng tama at hindi ibig sabihin ay hopeless case na yung kondisyon,” he has said in the report.

Letting PWDs study alongside non-PWDs has been one of the things I aimed for when I started this blog. I have no doubts that this will help everyone just like what it has done to Palestinian artist Mohamed Dalo; Czech athletes Jiří Ježek, Martin Kovář, Běla Hlaváčková, and Petra Kurková; and Bahamians Townsely Roberts and Gary Russell.

If PWDs and non-PWDs study together, as I have argued when The PWD Forum turned four, there would be no need to build exclusive educational institutions. Even PWDs can finish degrees: Maricel Apatan, Marc Joseph EscoraSafiya Mundus, Arnel Navales Aba, and Godfrey Esperanzate Taberna. We just have to believe.

Apparently, not everyone is willing to give PWDs a chance. The JCSGO Christian Academy has been alleged in a report to have discriminated an incoming third grade student with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Under education for all, wala tayo dapat tinatanggihan ang bata na mag-aral, anuman ang kanyang maging kalagayan. Kailangan nating mabigyan ng pantay na karapatan ang lahat ng bata para makapag-aral.” ~ DepEd National Capital Region Director Willie Cabral

Filipino PWDs this January 2019

The onset of the year has been promising for persons with disabilities in the Philippines.

For one, the education department’s secretary has called on them to register.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones has issued this in DepEd Order No. 3 series of 2018. The Early Registration, which is based on the “Basic Education Enrollment Policy,” covers incoming kinder, grade 7 and grade 11 learners in public schools. Out-of-school children (OSC) and youth (OSY) in the community are also invited as well as those living in an off-grid community, in a barangay without a school, in a geographically isolated area, in an armed conflict area, in an area with high level of criminality/drug abuse, in conflict with the law, and on the streets.

Those displaced due to natural disaster could also register even the victims of child abuse or economic exploitation, stateless or undocumented, and those who are no longer in school but interested in going back to schools.

Letting persons with disabilities study alongside non-PWDs has been my suggestion since February 19, 2016 when I’ve written about Austria and how it’s taking care of PWDs in the country. It has legislated integrative schooling in 1993 during the first eight years of a child. This is also what is being observed in Spain and Malaysia.

The PWD Forum has pushed for the integration of special education in the basic and secondary curriculum in the country. It has reiterated that after The PWD Forum turned one in the blogosphere and even after it turned twoThe PWD Forum has also made a case on the necessity, benefit, and practicality of sign language if only it is taught to every one.

In the Philippines, this has been the case at the Carmona National High School (CNHS) in Cavite. Education is an equalizer, pointed by Atty. Liza D. Corro, chancellor of University of the Philippines-Cebu, in a post.

The government has also implemented the value-added tax (VAT) exemption on sale of medicines—regardless of brands—for diabetes, high cholesterol,  and hypertension as mandated by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, or TRAIN law.

And, most important of all, the law that could provide affordable mental health services for Filipinos–the Mental Health Law (Republic Act 11036)–has been signed after more or less 28 years. It could secure the rights and welfare of persons with mental health needs, provide services for them even in barangays, improve mental healthcare facilities, and promote mental health education in schools and workplaces.

“Disability is one of the many forms in which human life occurs: it should be accepted as such and the people concerned should not be excluded in any way from participating in society.” ~ Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs in co-operation with Österreichische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Rehabilitation

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of GMA Public Affairs