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Differently abled learners must not be left behind in education sector's new normal —Gatchalian

An inclusive learning continuity plan amid the COVID-19 pandemic should allow students who are differently abled to thrive too, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said Monday.

"Sa pagpapatuloy ng edukasyon sa gitna ng krisis sa COVID-19, lalong dapat nating tutukan ang mga mag-aaral na may kapansanan at siguruhing hindi sila maiiwan," Gatchalian said in a statement.

"Kailangang matiyak at maiparating natin sa mga naturang mag-aaral at kanilang magulang na mananatili silang ligtas sa pagpapatuloy ng kanilang pag-aaral," he added.

The senator, who chairs the Senate committee on education, suggested that the printed learning modules may be made available in braille or as audio books to help visually-impaired students.

Television-based instructions should also have sign language interpreters to aid deaf learners, he added.

Further, he said teachers and parents of students with special needs shall likewise be trained for an effective transition to home-based learning.

He added that the Department of Education should also collaborate with local government units to make sure that differently abled learners are not hindered by COVID-19 from accessing health care services and therapies they need.

Citing data from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Gatchalian said there are around 5.1 million Filipino children living with disabilities.

He added that according to the DepEd, more than 231,000 of them are enrolled in the country's special classes in 2018.

Even prior to the pandemic, a significant proportion of students with special needs were kept out of school because of financial constraints and lack of access to education facilities, Gatchalian said.

School Year 2020-2021 will officially open on August 24, according to the DepEd. Face to face interactions are expected to be limited due to the threats of COVID-19.

As of May 17, the Philippines recorded a total of 12,513 COVID-19 cases with 2,635 recoveries and 824 deaths.—AOL, GMA News