By Leonel Abasola
MANILA – All local government units (LGUs) must establish at least one Inclusive Learning Resource Center (ILRC) in their cities and municipalities, as stated under Republic Act No. 11650 or Instituting a Policy of Inclusion and Services for Learners with Disabilities in Support of Inclusive Education Act.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian reminded ILRCs are mandated to implement inclusive education programs and deliver free support services to learners with disabilities.
He noted the absence of the implementing rules and regulations more than a year since it was passed, thus delaying provision of minimum services and conditions in schools, including assistive devices, facilities and infrastructure during the admission process, and other forms of reasonable accommodation.
According to the 2022 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in the Philippines by the United States Department of State, RA 11650 is not effectively enforced and many barriers remain, including architectural barriers that make attendance difficult for persons with disabilities.
To ensure the progressive realization of the objectives of RA 11650, the crafting of a multiyear roadmap is required to guide government agencies and private stakeholders.
The roadmap should contain the current policy, practices, gaps, and challenges affecting the early and basic education of learners with disabilities
Detailed targets and outcomes will cover a minimum period of five years.
Gatchalian said that under the 2023 national budget, some PHP160 million was allotted under the Department of Education’s capital outlay to allow each region to convert at least one Special Education Center into a model ILRC.
“This will steadily expand access to inclusive education programs,” Gatchalian said in a statement.
Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte said in her Basic Education Report 2023 in January that lack of infrastructure and facilities remains a problem.
“The lack of school infrastructure and resources to support the ideal teaching process is the most pressing issue pounding the Philippine basic education,” she said.
“The Department is not blind to the reality that there is a need to build, repair, and maintain school infrastructures to accommodate the growing number of learners all over the Philippines,” she added. (Leonel Abasola/PNA)