A total of 648 schools nationwide have been allowed by the Department of Education (DepEd) to offer the Special Education (SPED) program that provides the necessary educational interventions for students with certain exceptionalities.
Of these schools, both SPED centers and regular schools or DepEd schools, 471 are catering to elementary students and 177 are catering to high school students.
The Education department has recorded around 250,000 enrollees with certain exceptionalities at the elementary level and around 100,000 at the high school level in school year 2015-2016.
The SPED program provides a holistic approach in catering to the needs of learners with various exceptionalities. This program ensures learners with exceptionalities will have access to quality education by providing their individual and unique learning needs.
This initiative caters to learners with visual impairment, hearing impairment, intellectual disability, learning disability, autism spectrum disorder, communication disorder, physical disability, emotional and behavioral disorder, multiple disabilities with visual impairment, and to those who are orthopedically handicapped, chronically ill, and gifted and talented.
The parents or guardians of learners with certain exceptionalities may reach out to principals or guidance counselors of schools where they wish to enroll their children to determine the necessary instructional program that their children need best.
The instructional programs that the SPED teachers shall implement are the following:
1. Self-contained/Special Class – a separate class for only one type of exceptionality that serves moderate to severe types of disabilities;
2. Itinerant Teaching – a traveling teacher reaches out to children with special needs in other schools or at home to provide direct and consultative services;
3. Resource Room – a designated place where the child with special needs enrolled in the regular school program, goes to in order to make use of the specialized equipment, either in a tutorial situation or in a small group session handled by a SPED teacher;
4. Pull-out – a kind of program where the child enrolled in the regular class reports to the resource room for a period of time for special instructions by the SPED teacher;
5. Integration/Mainstreaming – refers to the enrolment of a child with special needs in a regular class with support services. There are two degrees of integration: Partial Integration and Full Integration. In Partial Integration/Mainstreaming, a child with special needs enrolled in a special class is integrated with regular children in non-academic activities like work education, physical education, arts, school programs, among othgers, then gradually integrated in the academic subjects if qualified. Meanwhile, in Full Integration/Mainstreaming, a child with special needs sits in the regular class in all academic and non-academic subjects; and
6. Inclusion – all children with disabilities, regardless of the nature and severity of their disability and need for related services, receive their total education within the regular education classroom.
In school year 2015-2016, DepEd provided capability trainings to 345 teachers, and 45 administrators and supervisors involved in delivering quality education to learners with certain exceptionalities.
Among the partners of DepEd in enhancing the capabilities of teachers handling learners with exceptionalities and in promoting the SPED advocacy are the Resources for the Blind Inc., Autism Society of the Philippines, Leonard Cheshire for the Disabled Foundation, and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder Society.
Moreover, the other partner organizations of DepEd for the SPED program are the Learning Disabilities Association, Philippine Association for the Intellectually Disabled, National Association for the Gifted, Philippine Federation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled, Parents Advocate for the Visually Impaired Children, and National Council on Disability Affairs.