You are on page 1of 16

Nov 11, 2011 by Cheryl M.

Cheryl M. Jorgensen, Ph.D., is a member of the affiliate faculty with the National Center on
Inclusive Education at the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire. In 2008
she received the National Down Syndrome Congress Education Award for her leadership and
pioneering research supporting the inclusion of students with Down syndrome. She has written
this open letter to Shael Polakow-Suransky, the chief academic officer for New York City
Its time to restructure all of our schools to become inclusive of all of our children.
We have reached the tipping point where it is no longer educationally or morally defensible to
continue to segregate students with disabilities. We shouldnt be striving to educate children in
the least restrictive environment but rather in the most inclusive one.
Inclusion is founded on social justice principles in which all students are presumed competent
and welcomed as valued members of all general education classes and extra-curricular activities
in their local schools participating and learning alongside their same-age peers in general
education instruction based on the general curriculum, and experiencing meaningful social
We know inclusion works. In the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act of 2004Congress
found: Disability is a natural part of the human experience and in no way diminishes the right of
individuals to participate in or contribute to society. Improving educational results for children
with disabilities is an essential element of our national policy of ensuring equality of opportunity,
full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with
The largest study of educational outcomes of 11,000 students with disabilities, the National
Longitudinal Transition Study, showed that when students with disabilities spent more time in a
general education classroom they were more likely to score higher on standardized tests of
reading and math; have fewer absences from school; experience fewer referrals for disruptive
behavior; and achieve more positive post-school outcomes such as a paying job, not living in
segregated housing, and with having a broad and supportive social network. These results were
true regardless of students disability, severity of disability, gender or socioeconomic status.
Furthermore, as the recent WNYC story states, the achievement of students without disabilities is
not compromised by the presence of students with disabilities in their classrooms. Some studies
even show that implementing inclusion on a school wide basis improves achievement for all
And just as important as academic outcomes are the attitudes and values that all students learn
when they are educated together.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network says, How children are treated in schools often mirrors
how they will be treated in later life. As with other minorities, segregated school placements lead
to a segregated society, whereas inclusion in the earliest years promotes increased opportunity
and greater understanding of differences for all involved. A society that separates its children
[during their school years] is likely to maintain those separations indefinitely, reinforcing
attitudinal barriers to disability in all aspects of life.

Not only do we know inclusion works, we know how to make it work.There are resources for
teachers and administrators from large, urban schools on how to implement inclusive education.
You can find hundreds of books, research articles, guidelines for inclusive practice, testimonials
from students with and without disabilities, teaching strategies, and strategies for designing
instruction and assessment for all learners to help guide you and your teachers.
The city's Department of Education has been screening videos like "Including Samuel" for staff
members as part of its special education reform.
Every single barrier you can think of has been addressed by others, and that knowledge is there
for the taking.
Imagine what you could do for the children in the 1,700 New York City schools if the resources
you are currently spending on out-of-district placements and separate special education schools
and classrooms were allocated to create well-supported inclusive classrooms. Its the right thing
to do and it works for all students.

Achieving learning for all through

inclusive education perspectives and
Rolando Jr. C. Villamero

Rolando Jr. C. Villamero, conducting advocacy activities in the Philippines to educate the community about
inclusive education.

By Rolando Jr. C. Villamero (Philippines)

Member, Global Education First Initiative Youth Advocacy Group

Gabriels story
Ayaw rana siya ug ipasulod dinhi sa regular class kay nag wheelchair man siya. Adto rana siya
ibutang sa Special Education class. (Since he is a wheelchair-user, it will be good if we place him in a
Special Education class, not in the regular class.)
This was the statement we heard from a public elementary school teacher when we asked her to
accommodate Gabriel, a child with cerebral palsy, during an enrolment process. Upon hearing those
remarks, Januaria, Gabriels 54-year old mother, could not help but cry because of disappointment.
Due to courage and persistence of Gabriels mother and staff at GPRehab, a non-governmental
organization working with and for children with disabilities, Gabriel was later able to enroll in a general
education class.
However, more challenges came. Gabriels teacher seemed hesitant in accommodating the child. She
had a hard time working with Gabriel especially during writing and reading sessions. Sometimes, she
forced him to write even if he could not hold the pencil because of spasticity. He was left with no choice
but to follow what the whole class was doing without accommodations. Consequently, Gabriels class
performance was poor.
As a child with cerebral palsy, Gabriel was also struggling in terms of his schools physical accessibility.
His classroom was located on the second floor and there was no ramp. Twice a day, morning and
afternoon, his mother had to carry him with his wheelchair all the way to the second floor. This also
hindered Gabriels participation in school activities because most of them were held on the ground floor.

Gabriels experience exemplifies the struggles and challenges that children with disabilities face in
accessing meaningful and inclusive education. It all starts with the prevailing negative attitude of society
about disability; in this case, with the school community. This is demonstrated through how some
teachers accommodate children with disabilities in their respective classes. A lack of capacity building
opportunities for teachers in accommodating children with disabilities in inclusive settings is a big factor.
Furthermore, inaccessible learning environments also present challenges for students with disabilities.

Rolando Jr. C. Villamero

Photo of Gabriel, who has cerebral palsy. His experience exemplifies the struggles and challenges many children
with disabilities face in accessing meaningful and inclusive education.

Inclusive education and the MDGs

In 2010, the Department of Education in the Philippines released data stating that 81 percent of identified
children with disabilities are out of school. This is an alarming statistic. If this continues, how can the
Philippines achieve the second Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education?
Also, how can this country be true to its laws of providing access to quality education to all Filipino
I strongly believe that one best way of responding to the challenges of educating children with disabilities
is inclusive education.
What is inclusive education?
According to UNESCO, inclusive education is, a process of addressing and responding to the diversity of
needs of all learners through increasing participation in learning, cultures and communities, and reducing
exclusion from education and from within education.
The goal is that the whole education system will facilitate learning environments where teachers and
learners embrace and welcome the challenges and benefits of diversity. Within an inclusive education
approach, learning environments are fostered where individual needs are met and every student has an
opportunity to succeed.

Abigails Story
Meet Abigail, a child with visual impairment (total blindness). She became blind when she was four years
old because of a brain tumor. She lives in a remote area in Negros Oriental, Philippines. Her first four
years in elementary were spent in a Special Education class that was located in the downtown area. She
and her mother had to travel over an hour every day to go to school, and they had to spend 3 US Dollars
per day for transportation. Her mother does not have a job and her father is a farmer. Money was a big
issue and her mother could not look for job opportunities because she had to stay with Abigail for the
whole school day. The process of sending her to school became very challenging not only to Abigail, but
to the whole family.
The interesting thing is, there is a public elementary school located a few meters away from Abigails
house. So why wasnt she enrolled there? The school said they were not ready to accommodate her.
Luckily, with the help of GPRehab, Abigail was eventually able to enroll in the elementary school near her

How does inclusive education work in schools?

First, teachers and staff of Abigails new school were oriented about disability issues through a Disability
Sensitivity Seminar (DAS). This was followed by a Workshop on Accommodating Children with Visual
Impairment where teaches were taught how to use Braille and how to differentiate and modify classroom
Second, during the first few weeks of classes, Abigails classmates were taught how to be sensitive
towards the needs of children with disabilities through a film showing and disability simulation activities.
This was also the time when her classmates were assigned to be Abigails buddies for classroom
Rolando Jr. C. Villamero

Abigail (centre) who has total blindness, is able to learn in an inclusive setting with the help of her teacher (left)
and her sister (right).

Third, Abigails family members also underwent a series of empowerment and skills workshops for them
to be able to assist in her education. Her mother said, More than anything else, Abigail needs me, she
draws strength from me. She grew up to be a child without a bitter heart.
Fourth, the curriculum was modified to fit Abigails needs. Though she was included in a general
education class, her teachers employed differentiation and management strategies so she could cope
with the pace of class lessons.
Fifth, it was recognized that aside from Abigail, there were students enrolled in the same school who
manifested signs of learning disabilities. Through the inclusive education initiatives, a project known as
Kaalam (Wisdom) was formed and was run by young people who shared their time and skills to Abigail
and other children through a reading remediation program.
Finally, inclusive education initiatives were extended outside the school community. A series of advocacy
activities such as parades and radio and TV exposure helped educate the community about disability.
Abigail learned in an inclusive environment
Abigails story is solid proof that a culture of negativity toward children with disabilities can be transformed
into a culture of care, concern, and inclusivity.
Due to all these efforts, Abigail graduated from elementary school last March 2013 with flying colors. Now
she is ready for high school.
Inclusive education is a critical element that everyone, especially governments, have to adopt in order to
fully realize the rights of all children to access and quality learning, especially for those children who are
marginalized. As Cardinal Roger Mahony once said, Any society, any nation is judged on the basis
of how it treats its weakest members the last, the least, the littlest.

School brings hope to Ata Manobo children

Posted on Aug 23, 2012
These lumad children long for knowledge. Not even their parents can stop them from going to
school, even if it means they have to contend with their empty stomachs.
Davao Today
TALAINGOD, Davao del Norte, Philippines 15-year-old Asenad Bago, an Ata-Manobo, has made
his school his home.
This is because Asenads sub-village (sitio) is three hours away by foot from the Salugpungan Ta
Tanu Igkanugon (Unity in Defense of Ancestral Land) Community Learning Center, located in Sitio
Dulyan, Palma Gil Village. He asked his teachers that he could stay with the school staff. In return
to their kindness, he wakes up early to clean around the school grounds and do other errands for
the teachers.
For the Ata Manobo youth and children like Asenad, the school has been a great help for them in
learning basic literacy. Without such school, youths like him would have to travel greater distance to
public schools in town proper.
Another reason why Asenad prefers this school is that the teachers provide me with what I need for
school like my bag, notebooks and pencil and most especially, food.
This Salugpungan Community Learning Center is running for nine years and taught 558 Ata Manobo
The school started nine years ago in 2003, as a non-formal school of the religious organization Rural
Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) in Southern Mindanao.
The tribal leaders of Salugpungan thought that education is key for the future generation, especially
in learning how to defend their culture and their land against the encroachment of mining and other
Their hopes were supported by the RMP especially through the efforts of the slain Italian missionary
Father Fausto Pops Tentorio, PIME (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions), who was then the
chair of the RMP Board of Directors.
Fr. Tentorio, who runs literacy programs in North Cotabato province, extended support to Talaingod.
Later in 2007, the Salugpungan Council and RMP established a primary school. Now there are 10
Ata-Manobo schools. Fr. Tentorio had supported the schools through donations and financial
support from his friends in Italy.
Now, the Salugpungan Community Learning Center has become a full-fledged elementary school,
offering primary education for free up to Grade Six.
But, the religious and the lumads initiative to gain access to basic education had been undermined
with lack of government support.
Even if the Salugpungan school offers free education, the Department of Education (DepEd) has
continuously denied its accreditation.

Thats because we were not able to meet all the departments requisites; requirements which we
think are not practical for a school situated in the mountains, laments Ronnie Garcia, the schools
first teacher.
He added, they were only given a permit to operate which they have to renew every year.
Garcia, a Mansaka lumad from Mabini, Compostela Valley province, was an RMP scholar himself
who took up education course in college. After his graduation, he volunteered to teach the AtaManobos here in Talaingod.
He shared that this year has been more difficult for the school as DepEd required them to submit
electrical, building and Bureau of Fire Protection permits, among others.
Garcia also noted that they have modified the schools curriculum so that it will fit the communitys
needs, especially on their culture and tradition. He added, the school has yet to discuss how to
effectively implement DepEds new program, the K to 12.
As a teacher and a student once, Garcia said that requiring them to comply with the numerous
requirements is tantamount to denying the indigenous peoples right to education, an added burden
in the midst of their suffering from severe poverty.
Bago himself has witnessed how some of his classmates come to school with an empty stomach.
Because of hunger, some of them cannot concentrate on the days lesson and many just fall
asleep, he said.
Students here bring with them root crops and yams, whenever its possible. They also look for food
very early in the morning, which most of the time, stretches until school time. Thats why some of
them come to school late, Bago said.
These lumad children long for knowledge. Not even their parents can stop them from going to
school, even if it means they have to contend with their empty stomachs.
Im really happy because since he goes to school, he has learned how to speak Bisaya, and to read
and count, said Bagos father, Dolfo.
But for Bago, he hungers for more knowledge, not only for him but for his fellow lumad children, as
I hope a Salugpungan High School will be established. We want to reach high school, also, and
eventually graduate Bago said with full of hope. (John Rizle L. Saligumba/
Sumber :

A long way to go for special

Ideally, every public school should have a special education program but the
DepEd still has a long way to go

Jee Y. Geronimo
Published 9:30 AM, February 23, 2014
Updated 9:30 AM, February 23, 2014

PASSION FOR SPED. Feliciano Sante, 36, says his love and passion for SPED make him stay.
Photo by Lizly Edralin Pimentel Ventura, retrieved from Sante's Facebook

MANILA, Philippines He almost got hit by a chair on his first day on the job.
After getting briefed by more experienced colleagues, Feliciano Sante knew
more or less what to do should a kid throw a tantrum. But left to his own, the
scene still took him by surprise.
Teaching in special education (SPED), he learned, is worlds different from the
usual teaching he knew.

That was 6 years ago, in 2008, when Sante had to learn from scratch how to
teach 15 children with special needs in Malaybalay City Central School.
(READ: Step up for Down)
Together with a few SPED teachers, he used to have the biggest classroom in
the school the gymnasium which housed about 90 pupils.
Since then, the school has provided 6 more classrooms, but the gymnasium
today still accommodates quite a number of children with special needs from
Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.
State of special education
CHALLENGES AHEAD. DepEd SPED division chair Mirla Olores talks to
Rappler about the state of special education in public schools in the
country. Photo by Jee Geronimo/Rappler
With the zero reject policy, any parent can enroll their children in public
schools even SPED pupils.
Unfortunately, not all public schools in the country has a SPED center, or at
least a SPED program.
Every school should have a program for SPED, kasi lahat ng bata, makikita
mo sa lahat ng eskwelahan (you will see all kinds of children in schools),
Department of Education (DepEd) SPED division chief Mirla Olores told
Citing an estimate from the World Health Organization, Olores said children
with special needs comprise 15% of the population in a given community.
Back in 2012, they were estimated to be more or less 13% of the country's
youth and children, with only 2% receiving government support.
(READ: Special kids get higher DepEd budget)
But today, only 416 SPED centers nationwide are funded by the government,
with 4 more waiting for recognition. Aside from this, Olores estimated around
200 public schools offer a SPED program, but without a center.

That is 620 out of 34,000 public elementary schools nationwide a long way
to go, obviously, for special education in the Philippines.
Based on enrollment alone, there are 239,000 SPED pupils in public
elementary schools today, and only 6,000 pure SPED teacher-items.
But since the ultimate goal of special education is the child's integration or
mainstreaming into regular school and eventually, in the community
Olores said every teacher should have an orientation in special education.
Kasi akala ng teacher bobo lang [yung estudyante], 'yun pala may specific
disability. Ang teacher gagawa ng maraming sulat saboard, 'yun pala 'yung
bata nagsasayaw lang yung mga letra [para sa kanya] kasi reading
disability, iba-brand ngayon sya na bobo.Kaya lahat ng teacher dapat alam
ang SPED, she said.
(What teachers call stupidity is actually a specific disability. As the teacher
writes on the board, and the letters seem to be dancing for the child with
reading disability, the teacher might brand him as stupid. That is why all
teachers must know SPED.)
Marching on
In reality, not all teachers are and will be brave enough to choose what Sante
did. He was offered to go back to regular school to teach pre-schoolers, but he
turned it down.
Ma'am, sorry Ma'am, he recalled as saying, 'Di ko talaga iiwan
yung SPED. Yung passion ko, yung love ko nandoon na talaga sa
mga SPED na bata. Yung challenge nandun sa SPED at yung awa sa mga
bata, mga estudyanteng walang-wala talaga.
(Ma'am, sorry Ma'am. I will never leave SPED. My passion and love is already
for the SPED children. The challenge is in SPED, and the mercy for children,
students who really have nothing.)

On February 17, DepEd announced the 19 winners of the 2013 Outstanding

SPED teachers nationwide among them, Sante, who ranked third among
teachers teaching children with intellectual disability (ID).
Despite the recognition, he does not paint the job with rainbows and
butterflies, admitting even that in some days, he gets tired of it all.
'Di talaga maiwasan tao lang tayo. Tapos minsan hindi talaga maiwasan na
mag-explode patience mo lalo sa bata, iba't ibang klase 'to. May time na
nakakasawa kasi paulit-ulit lang yung klase, yung tinuturo mo sa mga
bata...Pero 'pag naisip ko yung pangangailangan ng mga bata, 'pag nagstop ako, sino naman kaya [ang gagawa]? Dun na lang ako humuhugot [ng
lakas] he said.
(It can't be helped we're just humans. And sometimes you can't help but be
impatient towards children with different needs. There are times you get tired
because the classes and the lessons you teach the children are repetitive. But
when I think of the needs of the children, if I stop, who else will help them?
That's where I get my strength.)

HONOR. Sante looks at his award during the regional awarding of outstanding SPED teachers.
Photo from Sante's Facebook

Still, he celebrates the little victories: a pupil who kept repeating grade 1 finally
passed with honors, while another who was diagnosed with a learning
disability will soon be graduating with honors from elementary this coming
Pangarap ko [para] sa lahat ng [SPED] pupils: makapag-aral silang
[matupad] ang mga pangarap sa buhay [dahil] may pangarap talaga [sila] sa
buhay. Pangarap kong matanggap sila sa lipunan [nang] walang
diskriminasyon, Sante said.

(My dreams for all SPED pupils: education for everyone, and for all their
dreams to come true because they really have dreams in life. I also dream of
their acceptance in society without discrimination.)
These dreams could come true if teachers like him are no longer a rarity.
(READ: When passion-driven teaching succeeds)

1 May 2011


By: Dang U. Koe, ASP Chair Emeritus















MANILA, Philippines Swimming lessons, art classes, cooking classes and all sorts of summer
activities will be over by next week. It will be back to school once again. By this time, parents are
done scouting schools for their children. Some will stay in their comfort zone by sticking with their old
schools; while some would bravely scout for new schools that they think would best address their
kids needs.
In a previous Angels Talk years ago, several mothers gave tips on how to select a good special
school for their children with autism (CWA). Our Angel Talker this week is a teacher who shares tips
on how to shop for regular schools that offer special education (SpEd) programs.
Kismette J. Cepe is a faculty of De La Salle Health Sciences Institute. She also serves as SpEd
consultant of the Neurodeveopmental Center of De La Salle University Medical Center. Teacher
Kismette is an active professional member of the Autism Society Philippines and a volunteer of the
UST Psychotrauma Clinic.***
School shopping is a big task most especially for parents with first time students. Add to that, each
special school will offer different programs which can overwhelm a neophyte school shopper.
Here are some practical pointers which parents need to know when school shopping.
Children with autism (CWA) are placed in special schools under the recommendation the
developmental pediatrician, neurologist, clinical psychologist or SpEd diagnostician. These
professionals administer assessment and recommend interventions for the CWA. At this point,
parents should do their homework by knowing some terminologies used in SpEd.
It is best to ask the schools regarding their programs. Do not relay on brochures and other marketing
SpEd programs differ in each school but they can be classified into:

a. MAINSTREAMING, which can be partial or full. For partial mainstreaming, the CWA is enrolled in
SpEd class, but attends regular classes in one or more subjects, say art classes to have the
opportunity to interact with neuro-typical children.

Full mainstreaming is for CWAs who meet admission requirements for placement in regular classes.
It has provision for pull-outs for one-on-one instruction, or a shadow teacher in classes where the
CWA finds it difficult to cope. To sum it up, partial or full mainstreaming means the school provides
adjustments for the CWAs special needs.
b. INCLUSION refers to the placement of a CWA in the regular class using his/her age as the sole
criterion for placement, given he passes all admission requirements. There are no provisions for pullout and shadow teaching.
c. SELF-CONTAINED classes focus on functional curriculum for CWA to learn necessary behaviors
and skills that can help them either cope or deal with daily and lifelong activities. These are for
students who may not yet be ready or may not be fit for mainstreaming.
All programs may include tutorials and/or therapists (physical, occupational, speech), counselors
and psychologists employed inside or outside school.
SpEd involves services of specially trained personnel like teachers, administrators, and even
paraprofessionals who possess additional competencies for serving exceptional students.
Ask about the background of the teachers in terms of their education, training and exceptional
students handled. Ask who will handle your child? Have they handled a CWA (in class/school)
CWA have specific needs which can be addressed in modifying the contents of the curriculum.
Pacing of the curriculum can be faster or slower compared to others depending on the capacity of
the CWA. Functional reading, language and math should be emphasized for CWA. Provision for life
skills (eating, dressing, cleaning-up, following directions, cooking, crossing the street, using money,
etc) is also equally important to be included in their curriculum.
What is the size of their classrooms? How many students can be accommodated inside the room?
What materials are inside the Resource Room? Where are the rest rooms located? Where are the
picture or words system (for procedures and task to be completed) located? What is the layout of the
classroom? What are the different areas in the classroom? All these should be able to address the
need of a CWA for a structured environment.


The smaller the student-teacher ratio is, the better. So ask: How many students in a class? How
many teachers will handle a class? How many students with disabilities will be accommodated in a
What are the class requirements? What type of tests will be given? How will they be graded? Can
your CWA handle these? Will there be adjustments for him?
Successful implementation of SpEd programs includes readily available services in the form of the
following professionals: counselors, medical practitioners, therapists. Does the school have these
support services?
How far is the school from your house? Traveling time is crucial for the child to be motivated to go to
school. We do not want a child to wake up way too early to catch the school bus or to arrive very late
in the afternoon.
A complete list schools for CWA sorted per geographical area can be found in the Directory of
Resources for Persons with Autism produced and distributed by the Autism Society Philippines.
How will you know your childs progress?
What programs does the school offer for parents? Who will you contact in case you have concerns
about your childs education?
Would it suit your budget? This factor is very crucial especially if there are other siblings of the CWA
who also go to school.
There are other factors to consider, but this list can be a quick guide for parents who are school
shopping. It is best to take time off from work or other chores and to attend personally into checking
the best school for your child. Exchange notes with other parents of CWA about their school
Enjoy with your child his/her first day in schoolit can be very exciting!