As School Year 2021-2022 opens this week, parents of children with disabilities wrote letters to President Duterte and government officials to call for the immediate approval of the Bicameral Committee version of the Inclusive Education (IE) Bill for Learners with Disabilities.
Even before the pandemic, 5.5 million Filipino learners with disabilities already have limited access to quality and inclusive education, and are now at greater risk of falling behind in education.
The policy brief “A Disability-Inclusive Response to COVID-19” by the United Nations Sustainable Development Group, cited that the top concern of children with disabilities are accessing education (51.8%) and child development services (50.7%).
In a letter, *Jenny, mother of a child with disability from Paranaque, urged President Duterte to pass the IE Bill to ensure that all children can learn. According to her, while all children have the right to education, not all children have enough resources and capacity to do so, but the IE bill can address the gaps.
Dear President Duterte,
Isa po akong ina ng batang may kapansanan, nais po sana naming hilingin na maisabatas ang IE bill para po maging pantay-pantay ang pag-aaral ng lahat ng mga bata, may kapansanan man o wala. Makakatulong po ito para sa tulad naming nagpapalaki ng mga batang may disability.
Mararanasan po ng aming mga anak na hindi maikumpara sa mga batang "normal." Lahat po ng bata ay may karapatang mag-aral, ngunit ang iba po ay walang sapat na kakayanan. At sa tulong po ng IE bill ay mararanasan po nilang makapag aral.
The IE Bill seeks to provide learners with disabilities access to public and private schools, support services and capacity building to students, their families/ caregivers, and teachers, including the establishment of Inclusive Learning Resource Centers (ILRC) that will serve as knowledge hubs.
*Nita, mother of a child with disability, shared in her letter the importance of inclusive education and support for parents to learn sign language and other skills enhancement trainings in supporting the needs of their children. She went on to say that the IE bill will help realize the rights of those with disabilities to live happily and free from discrimination and bullying against them.
Dear Mam/ Sir,
Ako po si Nita. Ako po ay sumulat na sana'y matugunan po ang pangangailangan ng aming mga anak lalo na sa pag-aaral nila. Sana’y mga training or seminar din po para mas lalong matuto kami sa pag-aaral ng sign language upang magkaintindihan po kami ng aming anak. Sumasang-ayon din po ako sa IE bill para mas makatulong sa mga taong may kapansanan upang may karapatan din silang habang nabubuhay at may karapatan silang sumaya at di na sila nilalait o binu-bully ng iba. Salamat po sa mga bumubuo ng Save the Children. God bless po!
Through the IE bill, learners with disabilities who have not had early childhood and basic education services will also receive support through the Child Find System which will identify and facilitate their inclusion in learning programs while their parents will be provided with a support system to ensure that they can confidently aid their children’s welfare and learning at home.
“Our inclusive education Kabataang Aralin sa Lahat Ibahagi (KASALI) project has seen the long-lasting positive impact it can make if the parents, school, and community are provided with enough skills in supporting children with disabilities, and through the IE bill this can also be achieved for the millions of Filipino children with disabilities,” said Save the Children Philippines Basic Education Advisor Sierra Mae Paraan.
The IE Bill, which is advocated by Save the Children Philippines and partners, was approved on 3rd Reading in the House of Representatives in December 2020 and in the Senate last May 2021.