Save the Children Philippines warmly welcomes a significant milestone for children with and without disabilities in the Philippines as Republic Act 11650 – An Act Instituting a Policy of Inclusion and Services for Learners with Disabilities in Support of Inclusive Education, was signed into law on March 11, 2022.
Save the Children Philippines lauds the enactment of this law that safeguards the recognition, protection, and promotion of the rights of all learners with disabilities – whether in school or out of school, to education based on equal opportunity.
In 2019, an estimated 60% of Filipino children with disabilities were out of school according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development Listahanan. Moreover, the inability to access education services and learning resources was one of the major concerns cited in the 2020 survey of the Council for the Welfare of Children Sub-Committee on Children with Disabilities.
With the enactment of this law, the Philippines as State Party exerts considerable effort in adhering to the recommendations of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) on the removal of barriers that prevent learners with disabilities from learning meaningfully and reaching their optimum potential.
This law will provide learners with disabilities with additional resources to support their holistic education needs that include, among others, inclusive learning resource centers featuring multidisciplinary teams of professionals, accessible materials, child find systems, public awareness raising, consultative mechanisms, family education, pre- and in-service professional development for teachers and child development workers, and an advisory council.
While this law paves the way for improved programs and services for learners with disabilities, Save the Children recognizes that there is more to be done to raise awareness on child and human rights-based approaches to disability, fulfilling learners with disabilities’ right to learn alongside their peers, and eradicating the deep-seated stigma against learners with disabilities.
Save the Children Philippines Chief Executive Officer, Atty. Alberto Muyot said:
“Learners with disabilities have long been impacted by different forms of inequality and discrimination. Even before the pandemic, around 5 in 10 Filipino families with children, including learners with disabilities, already have limited access to quality and basic education, and are now even at greater risk of falling behind.
We call on the Philippine government for the full implementation of RA 11650 and to strengthen all other related laws and policies through integrated multi-stakeholder approaches that involve Organizations of Persons with Disabilities, the parents, and the learners with disabilities themselves.
Let us also continue to support the Disability Rights Movement call of ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us’ for effective leadership and involvement of government officials and all stakeholders so these laws and policies could translate into actual disability-inclusive programs and services at the community and school level with equivalent development plans and budgets.”