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On April 14, 2015, the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) in partnership with the U.S. Government and the American Studies Resource Center (ASRC) of Silliman University, officially launched MY IDEA: Movement of the Youth for Inclusive Development through Education in ASEAN. The program was composed of two parts: a panel discussion and the official launch event.
The American Studies Resource Center (ASRC) was fully packed with people. The event was attended by student teachers, teacher professionals, people from government agencies such as Department of Education (DepEd) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the academe, parents of children with disabilities, and persons with disabilities. The diversity in the room was very evident.
The discussion panel was composed of a diverse set of speakers representing the different stakeholders on the issue of inclusive education. We had Dr. Eugene Calingacion, a Special Education (SpEd) Professor of Negros Oriental State University (NORSU); Dr. Salustiano Jimenez, the Schools Division Superintendent of the Department of Education Negros Oriental; Mrs. Queenie Butalid, the Principal of Bulak Elementary School; Yasmin Braithwaite, a student teacher of Foundation University College of Education; and Alexander Macayan, a blind person studying at Negros Oriental State University.
The discussion panel was composed of a diverse set of speakers representing the different stakeholders on the issue of inclusive education.
The discussion started with the question, “Are teachers ready for inclusive education?”
Dr. Calingacion started the discussion, answering the question of whether or not teachers are ready for inclusive education. He responded with a firm “no”, identifying the lack of teacher’s values, i.e. the commitment to educate and appreciate the differences of each child’s learning style, as the primary reason for the increasing dropout rates of children in primary schools.
This sentiment was further supported by Yasmin, a student teacher majoring in English. She shared a personal experience she had during her field study, not knowing how to deal with a child with disability in her class. She admitted her incapacity to accommodate the child in class despite her burning passion to teach that child.
She admits her incapacity to accommodate the child in class despite her burning passion to teach that child.
Dr. Salustiano Jimenez explained that the Department of Education is addressing the issue through needs assessment and in-service training meant to increase the teachers’ skills in accommodating the children. During these training sessions, they do not only try to provide the teachers with the necessary knowledge and skills, but above all, they try to remind them of their purpose to ‘transform’ students. Dr. Jimenez then encouraged students to help ignite the passion in their teachers.
Talking about passion, Mrs. Queenie Butalid shared the inspiring story of how her school, Bulak Elementary School in Dauin, Negros Oriental, was able to overcome the challenges of inclusive education and helped a child with cerebral palsy complete primary school. She discussed the steps they took to accommodate the child and the collaborative effort needed to succeed. She stressed that the teachers’ passion and commitment to help the child is the driving force that surpasses all challenges on the way to inclusive education.
Collaborative effort at its finest is what Alex Macayan stressed on. He talked about the steps and efforts made by his teachers and classmates in the university to accommodate his needs. One example was the ‘buddy system’ initiated by his classmates to accompany him to his classes. He expressed his deep appreciation of their efforts and shared that this serves as his personal motivation to never give up.
One example would be the ‘buddy system’ initiated by his classmates to accompany him to his classes.
The panel discussion was a deeply refreshing discourse on the issue of inclusive education. The diverse set of speakers gave us an absolutely different perspectives on the issue. Each speaker showed us a number of different angles to be considered in order to move inclusive education forward. At the end of the discussion, it was concluded and agreed upon by everyone that the issue is indeed alarming and crucial, especially now as we are adapting the K-12 educational system and as we are going through the ASEAN integration.
On this note, we officially launched and introduced MY IDEA: Movement of the Youth for Inclusive Development through Education in ASEAN.
MY IDEA: Movement of the Youth for Inclusive Development through Education in ASEAN is a youth-led and youth-run initiative that focuses on raising the awareness of student teachers on inclusive education strategies through capacity-building workshops in order for them to be effective in accommodating learners with special needs, especially those with disabilities. It aims to conduct a series of workshops in the three districts of Negros Oriental, covering around 15 schools for 5 months. To culminate the project, a Provincial Conference will be held in December 2015 convening student teachers to form one unified voice to move inclusive education forward and create a “call to action” to hold the government accountable for the rights to education of children with disabilities. Simultaneously, Vietnam, MY IDEA’s partner country, will also hold a Youth Forum for Inclusive Education to raise awareness on the issue in the country.
MY IDEA: Movement of the Youth for Inclusive Development through Education in ASEAN is a youth-led and youth-run initiative that focuses on raising the awareness of student teachers on inclusive education strategies through capacity-building workshops in order for them to be effective in accommodating learners with special needs, especially those with disabilities.
MY IDEA’s core goal is to empower or enable student teachers to become advocates of inclusive education. It was co-founded by four young people from the Philippines and Vietnam , namely Quy Nguyen, Rolando Villamero Jr, Kathleen Young Ricardo, Eduard Narciso.
[Head Photo: Anton Diaz]
Kathleen Young Ricardo is a graduating student taking up Bachelor of Science in Management Accounting at St. Paul University Dumaguete, Philippines. She is an active student leader serving in the Paulinian Student Government for 2 years, while also involved in youth-oriented organizations outside of school such as the Pilipinas Natin, a youth movement for volunteerism and love for country; and EDSA People Power Commission – Negros Oriental Council (EPPC-NOC), an organization aimed to perpetuate and propagate the spirit of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution through projects focused on working with persons with disabilities. Currently, she is affiliated with the Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiative and works on community projects for the development of the ASEAN Community. She is one of the Co-founders of the winning YSEALI Seed Grants Competition of the U.S. Government, the MY IDEA: Movement of the Youth for Inclusive Development through Education in ASEAN.