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Learning together


cardie roque that's the spirit

THE San Beda University, led by its President, Very Rev­erend Aloysius Ma. A. Maranan, OSB and Dean Christian Bryan Bustamante, established The Venerable Bede Distinguished Public Lecture Series. The first of its series, The Senator Edgardo J. Angara Memorial Public Lecture on Public Policy, was held last February 8 in San Beda University Manila campus. Its title is in honor of Edong – as Senator Angara is commonly called – who is a great man, an educator, and a statesman who served as an inspiration to the Filipino people because of his valuable contributions to edu­cation and nation-building.

An educator and a public ser­vant myself, I find the lecture on inclusive education delivered by Dr. John A. Rees, Director of the Institute for Ethics and Society of the University of Notre Dame Australia, quite interesting and worth drawing attention to.

Education is a universal basic human right and not a privilege for the few. No disability and no differences in language, class, race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation should hinder children, the citizenry in general, to attend a regular school to learn, to be actively involved, and to socialize.

Children with disabilities re­main the most vulnerable to discrimination and exclusion from the conventional classroom learning, from the society, and from employment – not of their choosing but of circumstances.

Ten percent of world’s popu­lation have disability – that’s around 650 million. Of which, ninety percent do not attend schooling and forty-seven per­cent are poor.

Inclusive education came into the fore to address discrimina­tion in schools and transform the lives of the marginalized groups. Studies show that ev­eryone benefits in an inclusive learning environment when all students of diverse abilities and challenges are placed together in one non-restrictive environ­ment to equally receive high-quality instruction, support, and intervention.

Inclusivity teaches children to understand and accept dif­ferences, to support each other, and become catalysts for social development and democracy. In this mode, children with disabili­ties are empowered, merged with the mainstream of the society and become part of the labor force. A more educated society and a larger workforce contribute to nation-building and economic growth.

But achieving success in the implementation of inclusive edu­cation remains to be a challenge. Policy-makers need to further ini­tiate policies to address barriers faced by children in disabilities and proactively work to ensure quality education for all.

Teachers and schools need to develop their capacities in teach­ing students of diverse needs by shifting from the instructional mode of teaching to guiding and facilitating engagement and learning. The curricula need redesign to include the active participation in classroom, school and community activities as learning also happens in experi­ences.

Through those changes, stu­dents learn at their own pace as they will not be at the same point in their learning or will not receive the same instruction from their teachers.

Let us all help make inclusive education work in our country to achieve a just and proactive soci­ety and contribute to sustainable development.