Senator Sherwin Gatchalian
MANILA – Amid preparations for the opening of classes, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to ensure that learners with disabilities continue to receive access to therapies and other health care and rehabilitation services.
“While DepEd preparations are underway to provide learning modules to learners with disabilities, a comprehensive mapping and action plan are needed so that allied medical professionals, including speech, physical, and occupational therapists can keep providing services to these learners,” Gatchalian said in a statement.
“Bringing these therapists and health care professionals to the homes of learners with disabilities — while strictly observing health and safety protocols — is one way to deliver the much-needed therapies and support services,” he added.
In mapping out access to therapies and other healthcare and rehabilitation services, the chair of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts, and Culture said DepEd should work closely with local government units (LGUs) who should be tapped to provide transportation.
He also pointed out that the input of allied medical professionals is essential in the formulation of an individualized education plan, which identifies a learners’ academic goals in a year and how they can be achieved.
Gatchalian made the call after noting the marked decrease in the number of learners with disabilities who enrolled for the upcoming school year.
Based on records from the DepEd, there were 231,631 learners with disabilities enrolled in self-contained classes or those who were not part of regular classrooms in 2018.
Enrollment records for the upcoming school year show that as of July 15, there were only 51,375 learners with disabilities who have registered.
According to Save the Children’s “Rapid Survey on the Situation of Children with Disabilities in the Context of Covid-19,” 48 percent of its 4,066 participants said they cannot access education services because of the pandemic.
The same report also said the loss of income and employment among the caregivers and parents of these children hampered access to clinics, health care, and rehabilitation services.
“Sa pagpapatuloy ng edukasyon para sa mga kabataang may kapansanan ngayong panahon ng pandemya, mahalagang patuloy natin silang mabigyan ng mga serbisyong pangkalusugan upang matugunan ang mga hamong kanilang kinakaharap at patuloy silang makalahok sa kanilang mga klase (For the continuing education of our youth with disabilities in this time pandemic, it is important to provide them the proper health services that will address the challenges they are facing in order for them to continue attending classes),” Gatchalian said. (PNA)