Despite changes in the landscape of education, the Department of Education (DepEd) on Wednesday reaffirmed its commitment to continue providing inclusive education to all Filipino learners.
Officials of the DepEd, Department of Foreign (DFA), and UNESCO Jakarta led the launching of the 2020 Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM) in the Philippines. With the theme “Inclusion and Education: All means All,” the event aims to increase awareness of the Report’s message and recommendations on inclusion in education.
UNESCO Assistant Director General for Education Stefania Giannini gave an overview of the report. She also assured that UNESCO “stands ready to help and support Member States on this journey so that together, we can develop the education the world desperately needs.”
In a virtual press conference, UNESCO Jakarta Director and Representative Shahbaz Khan, UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines OIC Ernesto Abella, DepEd Chief of Staff and Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan and DepEd Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Diosdado San Antonio gave details on the Report and shared the initiatives of the Philippine government in the provision of inclusive education to Filipino children.
Asked where the Philippines stands when it comes to the provision of inclusive education, San Antonio said that DepEd has existing initiatives for learners with disabilities under the Special Education (SpEd) program while Indigenous Peoples (IP) learners also benefit from the IP Education (IPEd) program. Children and youth who are out-of-school are also under the Alternative Learning System (ALS) programs.
Currently, San Antonio said that DepEd is expanding the coverage of inclusion programs. “This is one of the strategic directions of DepEd,” he said. “We have strengthened policies and partnerships to further improve inclusion and expansion programs,” he added.
Meanwhile, Malaluan assured that the provision of inclusive education remains a priority of DepEd even under the distance learning set-up. Through the multiple learning delivery modalities such as modular (printed and offline), online, radio and television-based instruction or a combination of these modes (blended learning), DepEd aims to ensure that learners – regardless of their situation – will have access to education.
Malaluan also noted that the key to ensuring that the differentiated learners are provided target expenditure is to have very strong programs. “There needs to have very strong complementation between the funding that is integrated for all learners but complement that with targeted expenditure for differently stationed learner,” he added.
Khan, on the other hand, commended DepEd for being “very proactive” when it comes to working with UNESCO along with the other Southeast Asian countries – including in the COVID situation. While “there are many improvements and many things which we can say are going very well for the Philippines,” he noted that there are also gaps that need to be filled.
The 2020 GEM Report assesses progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) on education and its ten targets – as well as other related education targets in the SDG agenda.
The Report also addresses inclusion in education – drawing attention to all those excluded from education for various reasons such as background or ability. “This provides global norms that we use to review whether there are areas we are missing or failed to consider,” Malaluan ended.