SPED for all
Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
House Bill 74 authored by Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas aims to establish special education centers for indigent children with special needs for them to be able to enroll in public schools.
In justifying the bill, titled “An Act Establishing Special Education Centers for Children with Special Needs in all Public Schools,” Vargas lamented that “despite the many laws that recognize the needs and rights of children with special needs, there is no comprehensive law yet that mandates and institutionalizes special education in the country.”
Citing records from the Department of Education, Vargas said only two percent of the 5.49 million children with special needs are getting government assistance and 97 percent of those aged seven to 12 are not in school. Government records also showed that some parents tend to keep their special children out of school for fear that their children may be subjected to bullying and discrimination.
“In addition, dropout rates among children with special needs are relatively high because special education is often too expensive for an average Filipino family. As a result, most parents find it difficult to send their child to school,” Vargas added.
The bill proposes that at least one SPED center be built for each school division and three centers in big school divisions.
Most public schools in the country do not have special education centers. The few towns and cities in the country that do have SPED centers and capabilities are the exception rather than the rule. If House Bill 74 gets enough support and becomes law, the establishment of SPED centers in public schools would make education accessible and possible for children with special needs and provide much needed relief for their parents.
Education is a way out for everyone, even those with special needs, especially those with special needs. For families with special children, SPED centers offer opportunities for learning and growth not only to the children, but also for their parents who should have more time to be productive when their children are in school.
The benefits of SPED centers in public schools far outweigh the economic and social costs of special children unable to access quality education. These benefits extend to their immediate and extended family members, who without government support, are the ones who pitch in to share the burden of raising a special child.
It is high time indeed for our government to start lending a hand for the country's special children.*