The Senate approved on third and final reading Senate Bill (SB) 1907 or the Inclusive Education Bill, which will give learners with disabilities (LWDs) access to public education and financial aid.

Once signed into law, it will mandate the Department of Education (DepEd) to establish at least one Inclusive Learning Resource Center (ILRC) in all cities and municipalities. LWDs who face financial difficulties will be entitled to government-mandated financial and educational assistance programs.

“This law will serve as a catalyst of a truly inclusive education system that is equipped to identify and serve the needs of each and every Filipino learner, no matter his/her circumstances,” said the bill’s principal sponsor, Sen. Win Gatchalian, in a plenary speech.

In 2020, DepEd reported a total of 5.5 million LWDs in the country. LWDs are defined in the bill as “children and youth with intellectual or learning disabilities, mental, emotional or behavioral disorders, speech and language sensory impairments, autism, long term physical or health disabilities, deaf blindedness, and multiple handicapping conditions, which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others and are in need of special education as well as services for rehabilitation.”

Aside from learning facilities, the bill also institutionalizes an attached agency under DepEd tasked to ensure the implementation of services. Under the bill, teachers will be given instructional materials and ample training on inclusive education, allowing LWDs to be enrolled in regular age-appropriate school settings. Kelsey Telo