By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
While learning continuity for children with special needs is very challenging amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Education (DepEd) assured that its Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan (LCP) would address their specific needs to assure that they will not be left further behind.
“This is very challenging because even before COVID, there are already challenges in education for children with special needs,” Briones said in a mix of English and Filipino. Currently, she noted that most schools for children with special needs are run by the private sector and usually very expensive. “This is why we are pushing that the services of offered by these schools can be expanded so they can reach more,” she added.
Briones noted that the role of local government units (LGUs) is also very crucial to ensure that the education of children with special needs will continue. “We need the local governments on this issue because you have to be able to afford a trained teacher – who is trained differently – and the usual number of classes of 25 or 30 or whatever will not work because classes would have to be very small so you can pay attention to the child and his or her needs,” she added.
As it conducts the month-long enrollment for SY 2020-2021 this June, DepEd has also including learners with disability in the enrollment process. Based on the national enrollment data of DepEd as of June 12, there are 32, 299 non-graded learners with disabilities that registered for the coming school year (SY) 2020-2021 scheduled to start in August.
Aside from the actual number of learners with disability who will attend school in the coming SY, DepEd also intends to identify the needs of these learners through a survey.
Due to the implementation of various learning modalities, DepEd said the learning resources will also be adjusted based on the needs of the learners – among others. As cited in its LCP, in addition to the textbooks distributed to the schools, Self-Learning Modules (SLMs) shall be made available in print and digital format (PDF Flat and Interactive) for use this incoming school year.
“They will be converted to inclusive interactive e-books where videos, audio and even sign language interpretation can be embedded to respond to the needs of the children with disabilities SLMs in PDF Flat shall be uploaded to the Learning Resource Portal while the SLMs in digital interactive, inclusive e-books and video lessons shall be uploaded to DepEd Commons,” DepEd said. “SLMs will also be converted to video-taped lessons for radio scripts for radio-based instruction,” it added.
Meanwhile, DepEd assured that “there will also be efforts to train teachers in identifying and assisting children under vulnerable condition” and in protecting them from violence and harm in the various contexts of the school, home as school, and the cyber world.
These children include those who are victims or at risk of child abuse and bullying, children under conflict-afflicted areas, children in disaster-prone areas, gifted children, and other learners who are at risk of learning discontinuity because of socio-economic factors, among others.