DepEd still needs to shore up learning needs of students with disabilities: Gatchalian

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 23 2020 10:23 PM

MANILA - School divisions are now “70 percent” ready for the opening of the upcoming academic year this August 24, but the Department of Education (DepEd) still needs to beef up preparations in delivering the learning needs of students with disabilities, which number to almost 230,000 in the Philippines.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, told reporters Thursday that DepEd's preparation of students with special needs are still incomplete "in so far as learners with disabilities are concerned."

“For example occupational therapist or speech therapist, kailangan maghanap tayo para pumunta sa bahay nila or maghanap tayo ng mga espesyalista para pumunta sa bahay nila,” Gatchalian said.

“Right now, it’s ongoing 'yung kanilang (DepEd) preparation. And hindi pa complete 'yung preparation in so far as learners with disabilities is concerned. 'Yung modules mabibigyan sila, pero yung additional support, 'yun ang ginagawan ng action plan ng DepEd,” he added.

Private schools have their own preparations, according to Gatchalian.

Internet connectivity in schools in the country remains at 40 percent, but the majority of them rely on their connection from data charges only, the senator said. The remaining 60 percent will use radio and television, and the majority of this will be dedicated to kindergarten to grade 3 pupils.

“Ang magiging focus ngayon ng TV at radio is mostly, from kindergarten to grade 3. Ito rin yung kakailangan yung assistance ng parents at guardians. O eto yung tinatawag ng mas malawak na intervention,” Gatchalian explained.

DepEd officials will give him another briefing on Saturday on the preparations for distance learning, the senator said.

“Ang nakuha kong feedback is ongoing ang kanilang preparations. Ang missing link na lang doon ay TV at radio, because that’s the very important component nitong distance learning."

Gatchalian foresees a smooth delivery of the learning modules in the “middle of August” as long as the COVID-19 situation in various parts of the country will not spike.

Parents will be requested to pick-up the learning modules at pick-up areas and if everything goes well, classes will be all set by August 24, he says.

Gatchalian revealed even governors and other local government officials are opposed to the idea of conducting “face-to-face classes” given the high risk that students would face if they would be required to regularly report to their school.

“Even sila (governors) ayaw ng face-to-face. Kasi nga, once na nag face-to-face, lalabas talaga ang parents. Lalabas din ang teachers. At maraming activity in their locality. At ang ayaw din nila ay mag-open-close yung eskwelahan sa kanila,” he said.

“It’s better on August 24 we launch the distance learning."