Filipino children and youth with special needs shall receive free and appropriate public education if a bill filed by a young solon pushes through. Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond “Mong” Palatino today filed House Bill 6771 or the “Free Special Education (SPED) Act of 2009” allowing free services for children and youth with special needs – from early diagnosis and intervention to basic and ongoing education.
Filipino children and youth with special needs include the gifted or talented, the mentally retarded, the visually impaired, the hearing impaired, the orthopedically or physically handicapped, the learning disabled, the speech defective, the children with behavior problems, the children with autism, and those with health problems. “Like everyone else, children and youth with special needs have the right to participate and contribute to society. As such, it is the obligation of the State to ensure the equality of their access to social services and life-improvement opportunities, their full participation in decisions concerning their welfare, and the eventual possibility of their economic self-sufficiency,” Palatino said in the bill’s explanatory note.
Citing a study by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Palatino said SPED in the country lacks basic funding to be able to properly address the needs of special children and youth. Under the HB 6771, a Bureau of SPED will be created to formulate and administrate of an appropriate curriculum and developmentally-suited programs to primarily achieve functional literacy of the students/children with special needs and ensure their integration to society. The SPED bureau shall also ensure adequate and free medical assistance to these children, including those essential to their rehabilitation like therapy, psychometric assessments and medical examinations.
Full text of HB 6771 here.