December 7, 2020 – Through the Philippines’ hosting of the 2020 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report, the Department of Education (DepEd) together with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) continued its commitment in fostering learners through inclusive education.

This year’s GEM monitoring report aimed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) and its targets with the theme “Inclusion and education: All means All,” a call to action was also established highlighting the report’s messages and recommendations.

In her message, Secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones expressed her support to inclusive education and shared how the Philippines responded to different challenges in education, including the COVID-19 pandemic and other natural disasters.

“As all of us know, our battle cry is no one should be left behind and that includes people with disabilities and especial requirements. Constitution does not make any distinction between and among people from different groups or with different needs. It just says that it should be available to all Filipino children, to all Filipino learners. And this is why, when we have our annual crisis, whether natural disasters or natural events as well and political interventions… we always make sure that education will continue and that now one will be left behind,” said Secretary Briones.

This was supported by Undersecretary Diosdado M. San Antonio, explaining the efforts of the DepEd to adjust and advance the curriculum based on the needs of the learners and the establishment of the K to 12 program.

“Fundamental right of every Filipino Citizen is the main of thrust of Republic Act 10533 or the “Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013” which recognizes the diversity of the country’s learners, schools, and communities. Seeking to be inclusive, the K to 12 has broadened the goals of basic education by providing a wider range of options not only for higher education, but also for opportunities in employment and entrepreneurship,” said Usec. San Antonio.

The monitoring report also warns that: (1) education opportunities continues to be unequally distributed and (2) the reality that the rapidly changing world is facing major challenges from COVID-19 pandemic, to climate change, conflict, displacement and technology.

“UNESCO started from the beginning of this crisis as well as to alert the world about this issue. The report’s 10 messages are precisely about that [crisis and challenges]. The call to action- we should need as we seek to pave the way for more resilient, equal and inclusive societies. And as the world enters the final decade of action to achieve SDG 4 and fulfill its commitments towards inclusive education, this call to action is increasingly important,” said Assistant Director General for Education, Stefania Giannini

Meanwhile, part of the 2020 GEM Report National Launch was the virtual back-to-back discussion of DepEd and UNESCO regional office in Jakarta focusing inclusion in education and its implementation, adjustment in the school policy during COVID-19, horizontal collaboration between government and non-government stakeholders, educational budget and spending, grants for students and social programs to support education.