Senator Sherwin Gatchalian is now pushing for a Senate inquiry on the use of the Filipino sign language (FSL) as a medium of instruction in educating the deaf.
Gatchalian, in filing Senate Resolution No. 14, noted the serious neglect in the implementation of laws that stress the importance of the FSL as the language of instruction in deaf education.
The Filipino Sign Language (FSL) Act, or Republic Act No. 11106, was signed into law in 2018. However, Gatchalian noted that the FSL Act’s implementing rules and regulations were only signed on December 6, 2021, or three years after the law’s effectivity.
Aside from mandating the use of the FSL as the language of instruction of deaf education, the FSL law also mandates that the FSL shall be the medium of official communication in all transactions involving the deaf.
Gatchalian noted the insufficient training of teachers on FSL, the non-promotion of the licensing and mobilization of deaf teachers, and the lack of FSL materials, which prevent deaf learners from improving their learning process.
The lawmaker also noted that chief implementers of the FSL Act do not submit annual reports on monitoring and implementation. The documents, he said, is supposed to be submitted by an Inter-Agency Council created by the law.
The senator also observed that many deaf graduates fail the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) which does not match the competencies for which they are prepared for.
He lamented this creates an institutional barrier for deaf graduates who end up as tutors with low-paying jobs instead of entering the educational system as teachers.
“Kung nais nating tiyakin na hindi mapagkakaitan ng dekalidad na edukasyon ang ating mga deaf learners, dapat nating tiyakin na maayos na naipapatupad ang batas na nagsusulong sa Filipino Sign Language Act (If we want to make sure that our deaf learners are not deprived of quality education, we need to make sure that the FSL Act is fully implemented),” said Gatchalian on his message for the International Day of Sign Languages.
“Dapat rin nating tugunan ang kakulangan ng mga sapat na materyales at oportunidad para sa ating mga deaf teachers dahil ang ating mga deaf learners ang napag-iiwanan (We also need to respond to the lack of materials and opportunities for our deaf teachers because our deaf learners are the ones suffering),” said the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.
Citing reports from the Department of Education’s data for School Year 2019-2020, Gatchalian said there are 28,740 learners with disabilities who were diagnosed with a hearing impairment or manifested difficulty in hearing.