MANILA – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has signed a law mandating all schools nationwide to ensure inclusive education for learners with disabilities.
Republic Act (RA) 11650, inked by Duterte on March 11, provides that no learner shall be denied admission based on their disability.
The new law provides that all schools, whether public or private, shall ensure equitable access to quality education to every learner with disability.
“The policy of inclusion is hereby instituted in all early and basic education schools, both public and private,” the law read.
The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of RA 11560 must be included in the admission systems and policies of all schools.
The IRR, according to the law, shall include the provision of assistive devices, facilities and infrastructure in the admission process, and other forms of reasonable accommodation.
Under RA 11560, all learners with disabilities, whether enrolled in public or private schools, shall be accorded services and reasonable accommodation based on the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and shall have the right to avail of the appropriate support and related services.
Learning center for learners with disabilities
The law also mandates the creation of an Inclusive Learning Resource Center (ILCR) of learners with disabilities.
The ILRC shall be a “physical or virtual center” that will serve as a one-stop shop for the delivery of free support services to learners with disabilities and the implementation of inclusive education programs.
The Department of Education (DepEd), in collaboration with local government units (LGUs), shall initially establish and maintain at least one ILCR in all cities and municipalities.
ILCRs may also be established in every school’s district based on the multi-year roadmap of cities and municipalities and the availability of resources.
“All existing SPED (Special Education) Centers shall be converted to and renamed as ‘Inclusive Learning Resource Center,’” RA 11560 read.
“The LGUs may establish satellite ILRCs in schools, the operations and maintenance of which shall be included in the School Improvement Plan (SIP),” it added.
The SIP will serve as a roadmap that lays down the school’s specific interventions and solutions to corresponding identified priority improvement areas and aims to improve access, quality, and governance in basic education.
“Private early or basic education schools may likewise establish additional facilities needed for the education of learners with disabilities, in coordination with ILRCs within their cities or municipalities,” the law said.
All public and private basic educational institutions and ILRCs are given a period not exceeding five years from the effectivity of RA 11560 to comply with the provisions and requirements of the law.
ILRCs are directed to implement the Child Find System, a system that will ensure all learners with disabilities, who are not receiving early and basic education services, are identified, located, and evaluated.
They are also mandated to form a multidisciplinary team that will conduct education assessments and diagnosis of learners with disabilities, to identify specific development areas of concern and determine appropriate services and placement options for the preparation of their IEPs.
The multidisciplinary team shall be composed of an educational psychologist, guidance counselor, psychometrician, developmental pediatrician, neurological psychiatrist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech and language therapist and pathologist, reading specialist, specialist for Braille, Filipino Sign Language specialist and interpreter, visual specialist, special needs teacher, and ILCR supervisor.
ILRCs must also provide and facilitate consultative mechanisms, counseling, technical assistance, and training to general basic education teachers, administrators, CDC child development workers and teachers, non-teaching personnel, parents, care providers, guardians, or other family members on the education of learners with disabilities.
The law also mandates the creation of an Advisory Committee for Education of Learners with Disabilities.
The committee shall be composed of representatives from various disability sectors and a representative from the academe.
It is tasked to formulate policies, plans and strategies for the education of learners with disabilities, conduct research and policy studies on inclusive education, and monitor the delivery of services for learners with disabilities.
Meanwhile, Duterte also inked several laws renaming and converting schools in some parts of the country.
RA 11651 converts the Balbalan Agricultural and Industrial School – Balbalan Proper Extension in Balbalan, Kalinga into an independent national high school, renaming it as Eastern Balbalan National High School.
According to RA 11652, the Roberta de Jesus Elementary School – Disiplina Village Elementary School Extension in Bignay village in Valenzuela City is converted into an independent elementary school and will be known as Disiplina Village Elementary School.
RA 11653 renamed Lydia D. Martinez Memorial High School – Sugod Senior High School Extension at Bacon District in Sorsogon City as Sugod Senior High School after being converted into an independent senior high school.
Under RA 11654, Arcelo Memorial National High School – Liloan National High School Annex in Liloan, Cebu was converted into an independent national high school and renamed as Liloan National High School.
RA 11655 changed the names of the Arena Blanco National High School – Tigtabon Annex in Tigtabon, Zamboanga City into Tigtabon National High School after it was converted into an independent national high school.
Converted into an independent national high school, Manicahan National High School – Lamisahan Annex in Zamboanga City will now be known as Lamisahan National High School, according to RA 11656.
RA 11657 converts the Libudon National High School – Sanghay Extension in Mati City, Davao Oriental into an independent national high school and renames it as Sanghay National High School.
Duterte inked RAs 11651, 11652, 11653, 11654, 11655, 11656, and 11657 on March 11.
Malacañang released a copy of the laws on Tuesday. (PNA)