Gatchalian hails signing into law on inclusive education for learners with disabilities

Published March 15, 2022, 4:54 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday welcomed President Duterte’s signing into law of the measure that would ensure no learner shall be denied admission on the basis of disability.

Gatchalian said Republic Act No. 11650, or the law that institutes a “Policy of Inclusion and Services for Learners with Disabilities in Support of Inclusive Education Act” would now ensure equitable access to quality education regardless if the learner has a disability.

The senator said the signing of the measure into law is timely in light of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic to learners with disabilities.

Because even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Gatchalian pointed out that challenges like accessibility of basic facilities, infrastructure, and transportation, among others, already hamper learning opportunities for children living with disabilities.

“Bago pa tumama ang pandemya, napagkakaitan na ang maraming learners with disabilities ng dekalidad at abot-kamay na edukasyon at iba pang mga serbisyo (Even before the pandemic hit, many learners with disabilities have been denied quality and access to education and other services),” said Gatchalian who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.

“Napapanahon itong bagong batas para sa ating mga learners with disabilities dahil matitiyak natin na hindi na sila mapag-iiwanan sa gitna ng pandemya (This new law is timely especially for our learners with disabilities because we can make sure they won’t be left behind even in the midst of a pandemic),” said the senator who is seeking a fresh Senate term in the upcoming May 2022 elections.

Gatchalian noted that for School Year 2021-2022, enrollment among learners with disabilities is at 93,895, or 74 percent lower than the pre-pandemic figure of 360,879 for School Year 2019-2020.

Previous estimates from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) suggest that there are 5.1 million Filipino children living with disabilities.

Under the new law, the Department of Education (DepEd), in collaboration with local government units (LGUs), shall be tasked to establish and maintain at least one Inclusive Learning Resource Center of Learners with Disabilities (ILRCs) in every city and municipality in the country.

The ILRCs will serve as a one-stop shop for the delivery of free support services to learners with disabilities and the implementation of inclusive education programs and would be manned by a multidisciplinary teams composed of experts such as psychologists, guidance counselors, physical therapists, and other allied medical professionals.