THE Department of Education (DepEd) has allotted P227.35 million as financial subsidy to special education (SPED) centers that caters inclusive education to children with special needs (CSNs) from both public elementary and secondary schools nationwide in line with its flagship K-to-12 program.
“The 2013 SPED lumpsum subsidy is P227.35 million. It does not include the teachers,” Jesus Mateo, DepEd Assistant Secretary for Planning, told The Manila Times on Wednesday.
He said that, the DepEd is providing an open highway of learning to all kinds of learners through the inclusive education program.
“The goal of the education department is to provide education opportunities to children with special needs [CSNs]. To teach them basic academic and life skills, especially to moderate to low functioning CSNs,” the DepEd official added.
Mateo also noted that, children with physical or learning disability will also follow the regular curriculum of the school. Besides covering students with physical and learning disabilities, the program also covers gifted children.
For his part, Romeo Mina, Senior Education Program Specialist of the DepEd’s SPED under the Bureau of Elementary Education, said the DepEd has already completed the upgrading of curriculum for the Kindergarten.
“Last year  we have completed the [natapos na po namin yung]modification of K-to-12 curriculum for the Kindergarten that will be implemented this [na siyang i-implement natin ngayong]2013,” Mina said in an interview on Tuesday, adding that students under SPED follow the basic curriculum of general education but modified according to the CSN’s needs.
Mina, however, said the curriculum also differs depending on the condition of the child—autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Down syndrome, deaf, visually impaired, etc.
He said basic curriculum was modified based on the learning disabilities.
“There is a difference in the [May pagkakaiba po ang curriculum ng] SPED and those for [doon sa]regular students because we have to modify [kasi imo-modify namin], say, those with disabilities [halimbawa yung may kapansanan]. We modify the curriculum if we sense that we can lower or upgrade depending on the child’s level [Imo-modify namin ang curriculum kung sa tingin namin ay pwede naming babaan o di kaya taasan depende doon sa lebel ng bata],” he said, stressing that they modify the curriculum level of fast-learning students.
According to Mina, a total of 381 public elementary schools nationwide are offering special education program.
“We have 381 recognized SPED centers nationwide with an outlay of P500,000 each. They will use that to purchase instructional materials for the public elementary schools [Meron tayong 381 recognized SPED centers nationwide at meron allotted na P500,000 each. Gagamitin nila yan pambili ng instructional materials sa mga public elementary schools],” he said.
Mina said that, the DepEd has set a specific allocation of funds which include pupil development activities (30 percent), procurement of assistive technology devices (25 percent), procurement of instructional and reference materials, psychological tests, early intervention materials and science manipulative materials (25 percent), and professional upgrading of teachers and school heads, training of classroom parent aides (20 percent).
According to the DepEd, children with special needs are those who are autistic, gifted or talented, mentally retarded, visually impaired, hearing impaired, orthopedically or physically handicapped, learning disabled, speech defective, or with behavior problems.
They also include children who encounter health problems under the formal educational system.
A child is considered to have a need to train in a SPED center if he or she differs from the average child based on mental characteristics, sensory abilities, neuromuscular or physical characteristics, social abilities, multiple handicaps, or has a developmental lag.
The curriculum for the SPED has been modified in line with the implementation of the K-to-12 program.
Under the program, it adds two years to basic education, covering kindergarten and 12 years of basic education: six years of primary education (Grade 1 to 6), four years of junior high school (Grades 7 to 10) and two years of senior high school (Grades 11 to 12).