Teaching Teachers to Teach
According to UN Enable, a United Nations arm protecting the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities (PWDs), 10 percent of the world's population are living with a disability. That is about 650 million people!
In the Philippines alone, nine million out of the more than 90 million Filipinos are disabled.
With a number as large as this, it's hard to believe that only a few PWDs get proper attention, especially in education.
"It is said that 10 percent of any given population has some disability. Out of that 10 percent, we do not know how many are deaf or blind, etc. And in the 2000 to 2005 data of the National Statistics Office (NSO), only 5,000 school-aged HIs (hearing impaired) are enrolled in school. That is such a small number," laments Carol Ui, president of LINK Center for the Deaf.
The old data also suggest that half of the total HIs who are attending school are in the National Capital Region (NCR).
"So bakit ganun? Imposible naman kung naka concentrate lahat sa NCR. It is mainly because most of the teachers come from NCR and more training is available in NCR. So that tells you the need of more training outside of NCR," Ui explains.
For this reason, LINK created a training program for public school teachers, specifically in the provinces. This program is composed of sign language workshops and teacher enhancement seminars in special education (SpEd).
LINK was established in 2002 by four professionals whose objectives were to promote awareness about the hearing impaired members of the society, and to provide support programs for them. At that time, LINK was the only accredited training arm of the Philippine Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (PRID), offering services such as sign language training, interpreting, guidance counseling, teaching, and auditory training.
In 2002, LINK started its teacher training program, initially in NCR, primarily for basic sign language courses. The founders saw that most public schools have no SpEd program.
"When we started the training for public school teachers, we were already aware of the plight of children in the public schools. But we envisioned an integrated support program that would cater not only to the deaf children but also to the people around them such as the family, the community, the teachers," Ui shares.
Only a few public schools in the country have SpEd programs, most of them lacking in facilities and the proper manpower. In 2007, the teacher training program was brought to the Visayas region and to Region II. In 2008, Regions I, III, IV, and V benefited. This summer, teachers from Regions IX to XIV took the training program. …