Tag Archives: inclusive education

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.

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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

Inclusive Education in the Philippines

It all started with a handbook.

The manual, The Handbook on Policies and Guidelines for Special Education, embodied the general principles of special education in the Philippines. It was discussed by no less than the school administrators in the country, as well as the teachers, persons with disabilities, their parents, professionals and community leaders during the 1987 Orientation Conferences in SPED.

Then three more books were disseminated. They were the Handbook on Educating the Gifted, which could guide the organization of SPED programs; the Livelihood Education Instructional Materials for Children with Special Needs, which could improve instruction on livelihood skills for children with special needs; and the Revised Filipino Braille Code, which could become the resource of teachers and volunteers of in-school and out-of-school blind children.

Six years later, the program Basic Education for All was expanded to meet the basic learning needs of disadvantaged groups including the PWDs. Trainers for the special education program was also organized the following year to form the Regional Special Education Council (RSEC).

All divisions were obliged to organize at least one SPED Center during the SY 1997-1998. Among of the aims was to support PWDs so that they can be integrated in regular schools eventually. All districts were asked to organize SPED programs in schools where there are identified children with special needs, too. They would be assisted by teachers and administrators who have had trainings in SPED.

The salary grades for SPED teachers and principals were revised in Republic Act No. 6758 (An Act Prescribing a Revised Compensation and Position Classification System in the Government and for Other Purposes). Financial subsidies were allotted to 103 SPED schools in October 10, 2008; to 207 in February 11, 2009; to 227 in May 17, 2010; to 43 in December 8, 2010; to 276 in September 2, 2011; to 345 in March 21, 2012; and to 153 in April 10, 2012. Instructional materials were also provided in May 17, 2010; August 24, 2011; and January 10, 2012.

In September 28, 1999, those who were physically handicapped were exempted from taking the National Elementary Achievement Test (NEAT) for the grade school level and the National Secondary Achievement Test (NSAT) for the high school level due to lack of facilities, trained facilitators, and testing aides.

SPED in public schools had been strengthened the following month, too, following a study that there are 2% PWDs in any given population. During the SY 1998-1999, in fact, out of the 12,474,886 total enrollments in public and private schools, an estimated 249,497 were PWDs. Only 60,531 of them were said to be “provided with educational services responding to their potentials,” though.

SPED at the secondary level were strengthened a bit later. Then it took sometime before every SPED-related school personnel were trained by the Bureau of Elementary Education (BEE) through the Special Education (SPED) Division in providing formal education to those with mental retardation, learning disability, hearing impairment, visual impairment, autism, and multiple disabilities.

Still, only 2% of the targeted 2.2 million PWDs in the country would go to school. So in July 6, 2009, the Department of Education (DepED) included in its School Improvement Plan (SIP) an education within an inclusive classroom setting.

More or less 200 SPED Teacher Items were distributed to 17 regions that need the allocation more. Then eight months after, the Advisory Council for the Education of Children and Youth with Disabilities (ACECYD) was organized to provide “the official platform for constructive exchange and action planning.”

The DepEd through the Bureau of Elementary Education (BEE) and the Bureau of Secondary Education (BSE) enumerated in September 13, 2013 what disabilities its program can handle as well as how many PWDs only. These “exceptionalities” include autism, behavior problems, learning disability, multiple handicapped, chronically ill, orthopedically handicapped, developmentally handicapped, speech defective, hearing impairment, visual impairment, and intellectual disability. It had also implemented guidelines for the hearing and visually impaired learners in selected regions and divisions interested with the Alternative Learning System for Persons With Disability (ALS for PWD) Program.

“Engaging the participation of every sector is ensuring the delivery of quality basic education for every Filipino learner. We intend to review and fortify every possible partnership to ensure that, at the end of the day, our learners are enabled to move past the limits of their background and to move toward a life of competence and opportunities.” ~ Leonor Magtolis Briones

2018, for inclusion!

Call it cluster sampling if you may, but the summaries previously conducted on 12 countries in this blog have proven the necessity of inclusive education in the world.

Inclusive education refers to the idea of PWDs and non-PWDs alike studying at the same school. Everyone could lead “regular” lives. Everyone could have a chance to appreciate diversity. Everyone could also learn academic and social skills at their own pace within an appropriate environment.

The inability of a country to implement inclusive education till now cannot really be blamed on its economy. While it is true that money is needed to build schools and provide training, a positive attitude is also necessary to achieve inclusive education.

Take for example Kenya, the 40th poorest country based on the assessment of the International Monetary Fund in its World Economic Outlook Database in October 2016. Poor as it is, it has managed to enact the Kenya Persons with Disabilities Act 2003 and specified a solid framework for the development of a truly inclusive education system in the 2010 Kenyan constitution. It has also signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), believing that PWDs and non-PWDs studying together.

Even Bhutan, the 72nd poorest country in the same list, has  signified its confidence on inclusive education through the frameworks Standards for Inclusive Education, National Education Policy, Individual Education Plan (IEP), and Education Sector Strategy 2020. It has also devoted about seven percent of its gross domestic product to enable free education up to the tenth grade.

Of course, there’s still a challenge; inclusive education here is synonymous to letting girls study. But Bhutan has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to get the idea started. It has also signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the Millennium Development Goals, the Education for All-Dakar Framework for Action (1994), and the Proclamation of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) Commission on Disability on the Full Participation and Equality of People with Disabilities (2008).

Even the “rich” country Norway would like to let PWDs and non-PWDs study together.1 It has already thought of integrating every student into the ordinary school system even before 92 governments and 25 international organizations met in Salamanca, Spain to talk about inclusive education. Norway also legislated the Education Act2, initiated adapted education3, and established the Institute of Education4.

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” ~ Ignacio Estrada

1It is the 182nd poorest country of the 187 assessed.

2Learners in the primary and secondary school have the right to go to their local school.

3This train teachers in adapting to different kinds of learners.

4The institute train SPED teachers.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of educause

Inclusive Education in Turkey

The current statistical trends and developments within inclusive education in Turkey are not well known. The schooling rate of students with special needs should be improved, as well as the quality and variety of special education services within inclusive education.

The concept of inclusive education is identified by the Ministry of Education (MONE) Special Education Regulations itself. It believes that inclusive education should be provided to every individual—with special education needs (SEN) or none—at pre-school, primary education, secondary education and adult education level.

Early childhood education is for individuals aged between 0-36 months; a mother will be monitored at the start of their pregnancy until her baby will be six years old. If a problem is detected, the child will be directed at once to the associated institutions such as hospitals, guidance and research centers.

On the other hand, pre-school education is for individuals aged between 37-66 months. It could be extended to 78 months depending on the report of the Special Education Assessment Committee and the written consent of the parents.

The goal for these special education services is to enable every Turkish child continue their education in mainstream schools1. They would be assessed and diagnosed by the Board of Special Education Evaluation Committee, and if the individual with SEN is unable to achieve the general goal, he or she would stay in the special need school.

Turkey also enables its citizens who wish to teach special education do so. Some of its universities have departments for teaching on visual impairment, hearing impairment, giftedness, mentally retardation, and a general special needs education. The following components are also included: Fundamentals of inclusive education (definition of inclusive education, key concepts, and the history of the inclusive education movement); Overview of children with SEN; How to create an Individual Education Plan; How to design and adapt activities for children with SEN; and How to assess learning outcomes of children with SEN.

Problems in implementing special education still remain, though. Physical conditions of other schools are not suitable for the disabled individuals. The school staff, pupils and parents have negative attitude towards individuals with SEN. There is no standard school model. There is also no support from the families, and there is no special training support for the teachers implementing inclusive education.

In the study Developing Inclusive Education Policies and Practices in Turkey: A Study of the Roles of UNESCO and Local Educators (November 2010, Arizona State University) by Aysegul Ciyer, the diverse Turkish culture(s) has been acknowledged. “Although Turkey has made considerable strides toward making inclusive education a possibility, there is much work to be done. The many cultural facets of Turkish culture(s) in addition to personal choice among various demographic profiles and how this affects education—aside from inclusion issues, which remains a very contentious topic—have been given very little attention.”

It’s just fortunate that, last July 12, a 19-year-old aspiring musician with autism has been given educational support. Yunus Yazar was unable to talk until he was three years old, but he started writing and reading at age 4. He had Asperger’s syndrome yet he has such an extraordinary musical talent so Turkish actor/comedian Cem Yilmaz would help him through his studies at the Istanbul University.

“Inclusive education is a special education practice based on the principle that the education of individuals with special education needs (SEN) continues their education with their peers without disability in the official and private schools at pre-school, primary education, secondary education and adult education level by providing them educational support services.” ~ Turkish Ministry of Education

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the WISE Channel

1In inclusive classrooms, a maximum of two pupils with SEN may be placed.

Opening, Minds, Opening Hearts

With the end-goal of promoting inclusive education in the Philippines, The Teacher’s Gallery is going to hold a summit—the first of its kind—that would empower teachers’ role in nation building.

“There are two main purposes for the summit. The first is to promote awareness for inclusive education in the Philippines, primarily for PWDs so that people are aware that we are people like them and that with the right support we are capable of learning and bettering ourselves and contributing to society just like persons without disabilities. This is part of our theme, I Am You,” shared Benjamin Almeda-Lopez, special projects officer of The Teacher’s Gallery, in an email.

“The second is to form a community out of teachers, education administrators, advocates, businesses and politicians by bringing many of them together for the first time at our event. We hope that by uniting all of these groups at our summit, we can form many new working partnerships between them beyond the three days of our conference,” he added.

The Teacher’s Gallery aims to “address the current challenges confronting the educational system in the Philippines.” It is advocating interaction between students with disabilities and to those without in “normal” schools.

“For one, the students without disabilities are able to interact with PWDs on a daily basis. This lets students without disabilities become familiar with their PWD peers and hopefully helps them become more accepting, tolerant and understanding as a result. Interacting successfully with students without disabilities can also help PWD children develop greater belief in themselves.”

“From an academic standpoint, inclusive education can prevent cases that still occur  where ‘separate but equal’ facilities for PWD students are actually below what is required to meet the needs of PWD students. It ensures that all children of the Philippines have the same opportunities to succeed and prevents alienating and disadvantaging PWD students socially, academically and emotionally provided both teachers and fellow students are willing to accommodate them.”

“The biggest change in the education of children starts through transforming the lives of teachers. Teachers have the power to positively change the lives of children. Every student’s success in learning is a step to contributing towards a better future for all.” ~ The Teacher’s Gallery

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of W-Dare as suggested by Benjamin Almeda-Lopez