INQUIRER.net report wins Lasallian Scholarum Award
MANILA, Philippines—An INQUIRER.net report on special education (SPED) for children with special needs took home the “Outstanding Online Feature Article on Youth and Education” in this year’s Lasallian Scholarum Awards.
Written by Kurt Dela Peña, a content researcher and writer for INQFocus, a channel on INQUIRER.net dedicated to research, features, and special reports, the article is titled “Zero budget for special education in 2023 makes SPED law’meaningless'” and was published on October 4, 2022.
READ: Zero budget for special education in 2023 makes SPED law ‘meaningless’
It explained why children from low-income families require the SPED program in public schools and how its omission from the 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP) could weaken a law aimed at boosting inclusive education.
The SPED program was not considered in the NEP last year despite the Department of Education’s “earnest efforts to advocate for our learners with special needs.”
Dela Peña looked at the possible implications, especially on learners with special needs who depend most on the program offered in public schools.
The report was edited by news desk head Antonio Bergonia and contained comprehensive graphics by INQFocus graphic artist Ed Lustan.
The Lasallian Scholarum Awards is De La Salle University’s yearly media recognition program for outstanding youth and education stories coverage. This year’s awarding was held on March 22.
The implications of the non-inclusion in the 2023 NEP of SPED was so important since 5.1 million, or one out of seven Filipino children, are living with disabilities and 26.56 percent is poor.
As Dustin Pilapil, a SPED teacher at the Pateros Elementary School, said, it is vital to have SPED programs in schools, stressing that “parents who do not have resources rely on public schools for the education of their children.”
The article presented a closer look by highlighting teachers and parents who see the essence of the SPED program, and the problems that have been confronted by the program for so long, including the lack of teachers and classrooms.
One of the parents interviewed was Jenny (not her real name), mother of a child with special needs in Parañaque City, who stressed that while all children have the right to education, not all of them, especially learners with disabilities, have enough resources and capacity to do so.
Last year, the urgency to provide the needs of learners with special needs led to a law—Republic Act No. 11650 or the Instituting a Policy of Inclusion and Services for Learners with Disabilities in Support of Inclusive Education Act.
But because of the non-inclusion of the SPED program in the 2023 NEP, Jonathan Geronimo, secretary general of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Private Schools, said the law would be meaningless.
INQUIRER.net documentary recognized, too
A documentary produced by news anchor Neil Arwin Mercado and INQUIRER.net’s video team was recognized as one of the finalists for the category “Outstanding Video Feature Story on Youth and Education.”
READ: Look Through: Living on a sinking island
“Sinking Island” (“Living in a sinking island”), presented the case of Batasan Island in Bohol province, which is feared to be slowly being swallowed by the sea amid worsening climate change.
It looked at residents’ stories and battle for the island they call home. It also looked at the local government’s actions in response to the rising seawater threatening the island and its residents.
The video feature story was the second episode of Look Through’s climate change series.
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