Cognizant to the DepEd Order no. 26 s. 1997, Bulua National High School answered the call of educating Filipino students with special needs. Its Active participation in the implementation of SPED means supporting our country’s responsibility in achieving the target set by the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons. The call had been echoing since 1997 addressing the 4 million children with special needs at that time. Yet SPED Programs were mostly present in Elementary levels only.
Today, there is a threatening data of an increasing incidences of Children with special needs in the Philippine soil. Bulua National High School, one of the Leader Schools in Cagayan de Oro City, is trying to stand as one of the pillars of Secondary SPED program. The school is presently catering twenty-seven (27) students with special needs with two SpEd teachers handling them. SPED Program in Bulua NHS was first introduced by Dr. Aliena S. Dajay, the previous School Principal of the school. Her advocacy in SPED had moved her to assign Mrs. Leonila J. Tado, a former English teacher from the regular class, who took up SPED units at Xavier University.
What caused this teacher to initiate the opening of SpEd? Well, reality wise, one will be moved to wear a big heart for these special kids who needs our care.
As the writer went through the data of PNSO (Philippine National Statistic Office) by Carmelita N. Ericta, her desire to serve and help came to life. Ericta’s study of PWD (Persons With Disability) conducted to the City of Manila, Rizal Province, Tarlac Province, Ilocos Norte and Davao Oriental gave vital reasons why DepEd should not sleep on this issue. Ericta used 1,057 respondents in her study ages 18 to 24 years old. Her research showed that seven hundred eighty-six (786) out of one thousand fifty-seven (1,057) have difficulties in communication due to physical, emotional and psychological disabilities. These individuals are supposedly in High Schools but how many secondary schools offered Special Education for them?
The second data rose from PEFA or (Philippine Education for All 2015).The result was very alarming considering that sixty percent (60%) of our youths with disabilities are not in school, worst they are not also attending in ALS (Alternative Learning System). Only thirty-four percent (34%) are in school while the remaining six percent (6%) are in ALS (Alternative Learning System)
The third data is more vivid to visualize. This is from Edgardo F. Garcia’s “Persons with Disabilities: Status in the Philippines” which clearly reported that there are two million (2,017,180) children with special needs ages 5-14 years old in our country. However, 97 percent (97%) of them are not reached by our Public School System despite the Zero Rejection Policy.
Early Registration of Elementary schools in 2012 reported two hundred thousand (200,000) enrolees. However, Secondary had only 8,443 enrolees. Where did the 191,557 go? Looking at our very own Region 10 data, there are at least two thousand three hundred sixty-four thousand (2,364) enrolees in Elementary SPED but why our high schools have only two hundred eighty-eight (288)?
These data had encouraged the writer to fully implement SPED Program in Bulua NHS last June 2014. Right now, the school has thirty-five (35) SPED enrolees on its 3rd year of operation. A composition of twenty-four (24) LD, two (2) Global Developmental Delay, two (2) Autism and five (5) Intellectual Disability. Thanks to our very active and dedicated Dr. Shirley A. Merida, our Division SPED Coordinator and PSDS who faithfully helped SPED Programs be adopted to almost all High Schools in Cagayan de Oro City Division. Our active role in mobilizing DepEd Order no.26 s. 1997 will soon help our agency reach the target of our Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons.