January 29, 2023

“It takes a village to raise a child,” a famous quote says.
Its meaning differ from one person’s point of view to another. From my perspective, it means acceptance or inclusion. It may also mean love.
Project AYAT started as a Facebook advocacy page on inclusive learning and its importance. Now it is a program of Baguio Central School to help learners with learning difficulties and their parents and teachers.
According to Rowena Arshad of the University of Edinburgh, inclusive learning is the recognition of all students’ entitlement to a learning experience. Inclusive learning means removing barriers and enabling a student to participate actively and respecting their diverse cultures and learning capabilities.
Inclusive learning is important because it embraces all learners in one classroom. This means students with learning difficulties are placed in the same classroom with students who don’t have learning difficulties. They are taught the same subjects. The only difference is the time spent with each group.
But the Covid-19 pandemic has affected these learners. Studies show that the Covid-19 has far more greater impact on children with disability and they are likely to face a greater risk of being left behind. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, children are the most vulnerable population in society, especially those belonging to poor families and those with disabilities.
Unesco also revealed that children with disability experience a variety of barriers to education. They are often provided with less help, the teachers who handle them have inadequate training, and more time and resources are required for them to actively participate in learning which includes equipment, Internet access, and specially designed materials and support.
Learners with disabilities are negatively affected by the classroom shutdown in more ways, like they lose their playtime with their classmates and friends, which are equally important for development and learning.
With these numerous barriers, I started Project AYAT to make a difference.
AYAT stands for Accommodation Yields to Acceptance and Transformation. Through this project, I believe this pandemic can serve as an opportunity to re-think how emergency education planning can be inclusive of learners with special needs. I would like to empower learners with special needs during the Covid-19 crisis that is why I am advocating inclusive education to all. Through this project I would like to empower teachers and parents on inclusive education even through online platforms.
Currently, inclusive education no longer accommodates these learners in the general classroom. That is why home visits are conducted, various interventions are being done and more trainings for teachers are planned.
Inclusive learning and teaching are important to give learners fair and fruitful learning experience. As a teacher, it is important to understand each learner and how they learn and deal with others. This goes out to their parents and the whole community. (CHERRY ANN C. MALECDAN)