City of San Fernando, Pampanga—Four-year old Raphael (not his real name) has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD, a common behavioral disorder that make kids act without thinking, have hard time focusing, and become hyperactive. He is one of the 98 students under the Special Education Program (SPED) of the Baliuag North Central School in Bulacan.
Along with 177 other SPED Centers in Central Luzon, BNCS caters to all children with disabilities both physical and mental. SPED teacher Rubyrizza Cruz, who has spent most of her teaching years handling learners with disabilities, says her fulfillment as a teacher goes beyond what is expected as she is delighted and inspired to help children like Raphael overcome their disabilities and limitations in life. In fact, she also acts as a coach for SPED students competing in the Athletics-Paralympics Category, bringing most of the PWD athletes to the Palarong Pambansa annual event.
Makikita po natin na mas magaling sila sa mga regular na bata sa isports. Natutuwa po ako sa DepEd dahil dito sa Palarong Pambansa ay nabibigyan ng equal opportunity at may inclusive education para sa mga katulad nilang may kapansanan,” Teacher Rubyrizza explained.
According the DepEd Enhanced Basic Education Information System (EBEIS), a total of 4,771 elementary SPED students and 1996 secondary SPED students in Region III were enrolled during the School Year 2016-2017.
DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones highlights the inclusion of children with special needs as among the primary projects and programs of the Department. The creation of the Special Curricular Programs and Student Inclusion allows the development of an Inclusive Education Framework (IEF), which will determine the basic education requirements and improve the planning and monitoring of related programs to better serve children with special needs, especially learners with hearing impairment.
Furthermore, in keeping with the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) policy, DepEd implements the Mother Tongue Curriculum Guide which highlights Filipino Sign Language (FSL) as the mother tongue of learners with special needs. To aid educators in effective teaching-learning process, teachers are provided with relevant training. Bolstering this measure, the Department implements a classroom-level language mapping, through DepEd Order No. 55, series 2016, which includes sign language for deaf learners. The results of which will be used across governance levels, from planning and policy development to capacity building of teachers.
DepEd Region III continues to uplift the quality of the SPED Program in the region in celebration of the 39th National Disability and Prevention (NDPR) Week with the theme “Karapatan Pribelehiyo ng Maykapansanan: Isakatuparan at Ipaglaban”, which focuses on the realization of the fundamental freedoms and rights of persons with disabilities as provided for in existing international mandates and national laws.