Tag Archives: Asia

Stories of PWDs

Through education, three persons with disabilities in the Philippines have been in equal footing with non-PWDs.

Forty-one year-old Arvin Fidel Sarabia had his bachelor’s degree in Commerce at the University of Cebu. He is currently a senator of the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Philippines (formerly Philippine Jaycees), which is the first nationally organized leadership development organization established in Asia. He was awarded as its Most Outstanding Member (Area IV) in 2011 and Most Outstanding President in 2012. Sarabia is also a computer layout artist, event planner, and businessman.

Eleazar Danila has graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education major in English at the West Visayas State University (WVSU). He was recognized then as the WVSU Rotary Award for Most Outstanding Graduate, Most Outstanding University Service Award, CAMELEON Philippines Heroes Award, and Jose Rizal Model Student of the Philippines. The following year, Danila became hailed among the regional awardee for the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines (TOSP). He is presently a teacher of English and Research at the Saint Vincent Ferrer Seminary, believing that education is the “silver bullet to fight poverty” and that his profession provides an opportunity for continual learning and growth.

Also from WVSU is Hazel Villa, a Master of Journalism. She has started writing in June about the “Guimaras Waterlore: A Critical Folklore Approach” to analyze how the waterlore in Guimaras directly impact the general fishing industry in the province and the ways Guimarasnons try to preserve their aquatic resources. She has also researched about “Blog Defamation and jurisdiction issues,” citing what had happened with Gutnick vs. Dow Jones and Montano vs. Gorrell.

Educating PWDs alongside non-PWDs in developing countries such as the Philippines should be considered now. The greatest percentage of PWDs resides in developing countries, after all; some of them are among the countries those that ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Education will then cease to be an “unaffordable luxury,” enabling the former to fully assimilate into the culture of where they are.

“We have to educate our local governments, because the PWDs are the most vulnerable to poverty and lack of access to basic needs.” ~ Dr. Erwin Alampay

What Lea Sicat Reyes has said

In her column “Insight Avenue,” Lea Sicat Reyes has asked how can disability intervention in the Philippines become accessible to persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the country with limited resources and what should be done about it.

Countries like Vietnam, Togo, and India have successful programs in place that cater to children who live with visual and hearing impairments and other physical, cognitive, and behavioral disabilities,” she noted after mentioning the countries with similar context to the Philippines but have effectively addressed disability- related concerns.

“The Philippines can definitely gain valuable insights from their common practices,” she added.

So Reyes suggested pursuing partnerships between the government and civic groups that have the capacity to empower stakeholders. The Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF), for instance, has initiated a program in Vietnam that would “provide an integrated effort to teach deaf children sign language at a very young age, helping them to get ready to learn when they enter formal primary school.” It also funded a program on inclusive education for the PWDs in Malawi which “tests innovative methods to raise enrolment among children with disabilities who are not in mainstream schools and also supports the development of an inclusive education policy.”

Throughout the country, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the LAJ Philippines- LEGO funded the creation of the National Centers for Children with Disabilities in the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

Reyes noted, too, that a community-based approach where intervention is concerned is both practical and sustainable. Parents and families must then have a working understanding of their children’s intervention program. The disability-related concerns in the Global South1 should be studied more since “resources are readily available and systems are already in place to provide maximum support for children with disabilities” in the Global North2.

“We can no longer overlook the need to address the plight of children with disabilities in the Philippines. If we continue to allow these to fester, more and more children will be deprived of a chance to have a better quality of life. The time to act is now.” ~ Lea Sicat Reyes

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of unicefphilippines

1The Global South refers “Third World” (i.e., Africa, Latin America, and the developing countries in Asia), “developing countries,” “less developed countries,” and “less developed regions.”

2The Global North is home to all the members of the G8 (United States of America, Japan, Russia, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, France) and to four of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

Pushing for the PWDs’ education

Educating persons with disabilities in developing countries such as the Philippines calls for money and resources. As it is, many developing countries’ school budgets cannot already cover all of the mainstream students that need to be taught.

The teachers there also do not have any special needs training1. The schools’ buildings may not be wheelchair-accessible or the PWDs themselves do not even have wheelchairs. The books may not be enough for the sight-impaired students to share with their classmates without disabilities and the hearing-disabled students may not have the hearing aid resources they need.

Some developing countries deem PWDs to be cursed and, therefore, should be avoided. Educating them alongside students without disabilities could, therefore, present a problem for the parents of the latter.

But educating PWDs and non-PWDs together could let those with disabilities in developing countries fully assimilate into the culture of where they are. It is invariably “a way of giving disabled and special needs students2 access to an education and helping them become accepted into society as full, participating members.”

It is said that the greatest percentage of PWDs reside in developing countries; approximately 80% are in Africa, Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Some of them are among the countries that ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). This goes without saying that they adhere to inclusion and inclusive education, which is one of the key provisions of the UNCRPD3.

Educating PWDs alongside non-PWDs in developing countries should be considered now so that there will soon come a time that helping PWDs will just come naturally. There would be no need for rules anymore and education for PWDs will cease to be an “unaffordable luxury” or “non-crucial” because of the degree of financial expenditure and human involvement.

Arguably, a lack of education is the greatest disability of all, and these disabled individuals must suffer the deprivations of educational disability along with physical or mental disability.”

1If they do get training, it is based on a special education needs model, where the focus is on separating a PWD from their peers to segregated classes and schools.

2Aside from PWDs, inclusive education also encompasses to heads of households, former child-soldiers, street children, orphans, child prostitutes, and children of war and displacement.

3Article 24 commits State parties to developing an inclusive education system, where disability should not prevent people from successfully participating in the mainstream education system.

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