Philippines Inclusive Schools Week Celebration
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This Completion Report was shared with us by The Teacher’s Gallery in the Philippines. What an inspiring celebration! We hope that their thoughts and ideas can help you when planning your own Inclusive Schools Week celebration.
Inclusion is an advocacy that is growing in today’s Philippine society, especially in pursuing the goal of inclusive quality education. This has opened our doors to diversity in education, pushing progress forward for students hindered by disability, gender, socioeconomic status, cultural heritage, language preference, and other factors.
Inclusive Schools Week is an annual event sponsored by the Inclusive Schools Network (ISN) and Stetson & Associates, Inc., which is held each year during the first full week in December. Since its inception in 2001, Inclusive Schools Week has celebrated the progress that schools have made in providing a supportive and quality education to an increasingly diverse student population, including students who are marginalized due to disability, gender, socio-economic status, cultural heritage, language preference and other factors. The Week also provides an important opportunity for educators, students and parents to discuss what else needs to be done in order to ensure that their schools continue to improve their ability to successfully educate all children.
The Teacher’s Gallery (TTG) aims to offer learning opportunities related to inclusive education to both teachers and the broader education community that inspire transformational change and provide the community with the tools necessary to enact this change. We serve teachers, administrators, parents and other stakeholders in the field of education who seek to lead, transform, and serve the students for a better future. In line with TTG’s identity and advocacy for quality inclusive education and the development of education actors, they led the first ISW in the Philippines. TTG’s consistent collaboration with DepEd and other inclusive education advocates in the country made it effective in promoting the celebration and gaining the participation of different schools and community organizations.
Hence, the Inclusive Schools Week in the Philippines was an opportunity for everyone to come together and learn from one another in fostering inclusion in education through sharing resources. TTG aims to promote the vision of inclusive quality education for ALL in ALL schools where more students, no matter where they come from, may be given the avenue to contribute and grow.
Discussions & Activities
Overall, there were 16 confirmed schools that participated in the event. All organized unique activities that involved the members of their school – the educators, students, and some involved the parents.
The most popular activities facilitated by the schools were a movie showing, sign language class, and freedom wall. Schools featured movies such as Wonder and Miracle in Cell No. 7 – popular movies that showcased the importance of the inclusion of persons with disabilities, and what obstacles they face. Basic sign language was taught so students could learn to communicate with those with hearing impairments. Freedom walls were also popular, where everyone manifested their commitment to fostering inclusion in their own environments.
Other activities that were organized during the week were an ISW activity center, social media campaigns, Christmas caroling of the deaf, school advertisement about how they practice inclusion, inclusive education seminars, shirt for a cause fundraising, storytelling about inclusion, small group learning, discussion about handling children with disabilities in inclusive classes, talent showcase, workshop on inclusive education, commitment wall hand painting, inclusive games, and inclusion-themed Christmas decoration.
Goals and Achievements
To involve schools:
- Partner schools were invited to take part in the celebration by holding their own ISWs. Precious Gem Academy, in particular, was tapped to be the partner coordinator for the Kick-Off Celebration.
- School partnerships were also expanded through intensive social media presence and promotion. Through this celebration, we were able to reach other schools from different regions. Upon learning about ISW, they ensured their commitment to the celebration for the next year.
Promoting ISW throughout the country was achieved through heavy social media promotion. The schools were also featured to extend the reach of the promotion to those who are not TTG’s followers yet, as the schools themselves will share these posts to their own followers. Through this, ISW was able to reach different audiences. TTG also visited different schools to share what ISW is about, and talk about how they could be part of the celebration. Face-to-face communication sparked the interest of the educators and encouraged them to be part of the celebration.
Schools that participated in the celebration were also empowered to not only be part of ISW but also to advocate for inclusive education and practice the values it teachers in their own schools and communities. Celebration ISW for different schools – especially the big ones – also gave them the platform to advocate for inclusive education. This helped create more traction and share information about the advocacy.
Challenges and Lessons Learned
Among the challenges faced by the team was getting the schools’ commitment to the celebration. Most of them received the initial impression that the celebration was supposed to be a grand one, entailing large expenses – which was not the case. Moving forward, this celebration could serve as a model for interested schools for the 2019 celebration, showing that the celebration does not need to cost much. Courtesy visits will also be made earlier.
Another challenge faced was the difficulty with the coordination with the different stakeholders, especially the local government units, due to their prior engagements. An improvement for the next celebration that can be done is to prioritize the coordination with the already-invested stakeholders (those who are already advocates) before going out to other stakeholders needed. This is to ensure the full support and success of individual celebrations.
Conclusion & Moving Forward
For ISW’s first year in the country, it was a success. It was able to meet its qualitative goals, while also gaining more partners along the way. Schools successfully held their activities, mainly targeted towards promoting awareness about the value of inclusion, and not necessarily inclusive education itself. We believe that this is a significant move, seeing as the advocacy is not as accepted yet by all. Inclusion, in general, is a more digestible concept than inclusive education, so the former was focused on more, complemented with the provision of information on inclusive education and what it entails.
However, we also believe that we could reach more schools in the next celebration. This can be addressed through improved coordination with TTG’s partners. This is seen to improve in the 2019 celebration as TTG already has a feel of the inclusion context of the country through the 2018 celebration. We also see the reach improving next year, seeing as we already have committed participant schools who are already looking forward to being a part of this next year.
Participants, Partners, and Sponsors
The Teacher’s Gallery would like to thank the following partners and sponsors who supported its first annual celebration of Inclusive Schools Week Philippines 2018:
- Alfonso SPED Center, Alfonso, Cavite
- Another Home to Grow, Quezon City
- Baybay City Division Schools, Baybay City, Leyte
- Centro Escolar University, San Miguel, Manila
- Christi Marie Montessori, Binangonan, Rizal
- Creative Learners’ Home, Quezon City
- Camarines Norte PDAO, Daet, Camarines Norte
- Legarda ES, Manila
- Los Baños National HS, Los Baños, Laguna
- Miriam College, Quezon City
- Montessori de San Juan, San Juan City
- Nemesio I. Yabut SHS, Quezon City
- Precious Gem Academy, Quezon City
- Ricardo P. Cruz ES, Taguig City
- Tabon-Tabon ES, Irosin, Sorsogon
- Calao ES, Sorsogon City
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