Initiatives for special education in the Philippines have begun as early as 1902. It has almost been a century and two decades past; yet until now, our country has no version of the famous IDEA or Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. However, there is a Senate Bill pushing for this need, Senate Bill 1298 espoused by Senator Joel Villanueva. In the absence of IDEA our special education system has no specific parameters for its practice. Sadly, there are no legislations mandating the other elemental resources that will be of great help to the teachers.
Despite a fundamental block missing, our Department of Education has recently made clear its desires for inclusive education. Inclusive education refers to having a special needs child fully participate in a regular school. We also have a Senate Bill waiting to be a law on inclusive education, Senate Bill 996 espoused by Senator Win Gathchalian.
Most school teachers from both the private and publics schools have expressed apprehension on their readiness to deal with the inclusion program. They are expressing the lack of proficient training for the task. Regular classroom teachers are already anticipating the pressure and difficulty of handling their classrooms. They are overwhelmed as early as now.
Had we have an IDEA, our special education needs children will have a vast pool of professionals and proper assessment available to them. Diagnosis alone will not truly be enough. It is best to have an assessment for the appropriate developmental concern of each child. Likewise, for their educational need, assessment from a professional who is also familiar with instruction and curriculum will be a lot of help. With this detailed educational assessment, our regular classroom teachers handling special needs children will have better information and picture of the child’s present level of performance.
Had we have an IDEA, our regular classroom teachers handling special needs children will have resources to ease the birth-pains of the sought after inclusion program. It will ideally allow each school or district to will have its own special education department. This serves the first and best resource for the regular teachers. The special education department will be a well of expertise and experience. This department will also have teachers and para-professionals who are properly trained for the special education needs children. They will assist in the modification of the lesson material so that it suits the child’s needs. A regular classroom teacher may ask them for ideas for modifying activities and assessments.
Had we have an IDEA, regular classroom teachers will have a copy of special needs child’s IEP or the individualized lesson plan. It will have the list of very specific goals and objective for the special needs child. It also includes lists of possible activities and strategies in achieving the objectives outlined therein. This is a very important and indispensable tool designed to help the classroom teacher know how best to meet the needs of a particular child. The regular classroom teachers should have received a copy of each special needs child’s IEP in a confidential folder. But sadly, many classroom teachers never set eyes on that important document so full of information about the child. That is because no law mandates it and some sees it irrelevant and dismisses the preparation of it.
Had we have an IDEA, special education needs children will have access to free education in the public school system.
Every special needs child is capable of success. Each will succeed according to his or her individual ability. Focus on the child’s strengths and be supportive of their weaknesses. Let each child feel and know that you believe in him or her. The rewards will be beyond words for both you and the child.