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DepEd issues policy on implementation of LSENs.

By Merlina Hernando-Malipot

The Department of Education (DepEd) has issued the policy on the implementation of multi-factored assessment tool identify Learners with Special Educational Needs (LSENs) who may need education services and other services.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones, in DepEd Order No. 29 series of 2018 - issued to all undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, bureau and service directors, regional directors, schools division superintendents, public senior high school heads and all others concerned - issued the Policy on the Utilization of Multi-Factored Assessment Tool (MFAT).

DepEd, through the Bureau of Learning Delivery-Student Inclusion Division (BLD-SID), issued the MFAT to "assess Grade 1 learners enrolled in regular schools, who may exhibit developmental advancement or delays or have manifestations of learning disability."

Primarily, the policy aims to "identify Learners with Special Educational Needs (LSENs), who may need education services and/or medical/allied services" as well as to "assist teachers in planning and designing instructions appropriate for LSENs."

This MFAT, Briones said, is a "classroom activity-based assessment" covering the five domains of learning: (a) Cognitive, (b) Communication, (c) Socio-Emotional, (d) Psycho-Motor, and (e) Daily Living Skills. "The details of this tool shall be discussed in the Handbook of MFAT Administration," she added.

Briones noted that the said "policy shall take effect immediately upon approval, and should remain in force and in effect for the duration of the program, unless otherwise repealed, amended or rescinded." She also directed the "immediate dissemination of and strict compliance" with the said DepEd Order.

Identiying children with special needs

Despite the increasing awareness on the "red flags" of children with special needs, DepEd Bureau of Learning Delivery-Student Inclusion Division (BLD-SID) Supervising Education Program Specialist Nancy Pascual told the Manila Bulletin in an earlier interview that identification of these learners remains a "challenge" for DepEd.

"During elementary days, they [LSENs] are not identified yet but [when] they get into high school, it [disability] will be much more identified," Pascual said. "The challenge is identification because of the fact that there are so many parents that are in denial stage," she added.

Pascual noted that upon enrollment, "there are teachers who are assigned in schools who could do the initial assessment or identification." These teachers, she explained, "will do some interventions" and if these interventions "did not work, then they will have to refer [the child/children] to specialists," she added.

In the MFAT, Pascual said that the activities are grouped by domains. "We are promoting inclusion those with severe should be included in some activities," she noted.

Data from DepEd showed that for 2016-2017, the total enrollment in SPED under DepEd is 238, 576. Of this number, 110, 346 are in elementary (68, 372-graded and 41, 974-non-graded) and 128, 230 in secondary.

The types of exceptionalities served are categorized in "Medical Model" or those with visual impairment, hearing impairment, learning disability, intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, emotional/behavioral disorder, orthopedically handicap, speech/communication disorder, cerebral palsy, health/chronic illness and multi-disability and "Social Model" or those who have difficulty in seeing, hearing, applying basic knowledge, remembering, concentrating/paying attention, walking, climbing, grasping and communicating.

Data from DepEd also showed that there are only 678 schools in 258 divisions that offer the SPEd program. Of this number, 501 schools in 195 divisions for Elementary and 177 schools in 63 divisions for Secondary.

Pascual said that ideally, there should be an offering the SPED program in every public school. "But there are some schools that are not offering the program that is why the children are forced to go to a faraway school but ideal one is that they should go to schools that are near their homes or communities," she explained.

Lack of SPED teachers has also been a long-standing problem that has yet to be addressed. "As of now, there are 2,601 SPED teachers in elementary and only 284 in secondary," Pascual said. This leads to another challenge in terms of teacher-pupil ratio. "In one inclusive class, there should only be 33 regular pupils and two children with exceptionalities - should be with same exceptionality," she explained.

The attitude of many most principals and teachers when it comes to promoting inclusive setting, is also another challenge. "If they do not believe that the child with exceptionality can learn, can perform, it will be difficult," Pascual said. "It is the responsibility of the teacher to orient the whole class and the principal to orient the whole school, parents and community and other stakeholders," she ended.

While there has been a notable improvement in the implementation of the SPED Program over the years, Pascual said that there is "still a lot of catching up" in terms of addressing basic education gaps such as facilities, teachers, and learning materials - among others.

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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Aug 6, 2018
Words:790
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