The Department of Education (DepEd) is mandated to protect and promote the right of every Filipino citizen to quality education that will enable each learner to realize their full potential and meaningfully take part in nation-building. Actualizing this constitutional right is the main thrust of the K to 12 Basic Education Program which recognizes the diversity of the country’s learners, schools, and communities. Seeking to be inclusive, K to 12 has broadened the goals of basic education in response to the varied realities of learners and their families by providing a wider range of options not only in preparing them for higher education, but also for opportunities in employment and entrepreneur ship. K to 12 further promotes the implementation of programs that address the various physical, intellectual, psychosocial, and cultural needs of learners in diverse contexts. These programs are anchored on inclusion which is a core principle of the Enhanced Basic Education Program (DepEd Order No. 43, s. 2013).
The principle of inclusion promotes institutional sensitivity and responsiveness to the nature, situation, and realities of our country’s learners and directs the Department to proactively address these through the curriculum and other interventions. This is institutionalized by K to 12 through Inclusive Education, a policy perspective realized through the development and implementation of learner-centered and context-responsive programs.
This policy framework is being adopted to provide an overall framework of implementation for programs that directly promote Inclusive Education and to ensure that every aspect of the K to 12 curriculum support system, across the governance levels of the Department, is responsive to the needs and demands of diverse learners.
Table of Contents
The principle of inclusion as a basis for development initiatives including education has been highlighted in international legal and standard-setting instruments, and Philippine laws. These laws and instruments are premised on the fundamental importance of recognizing the right to quality basic education of all learners, especially the disadvantaged and marginalized, who may be in unique situations and have different learning needs due to their personal, social, cultural, and economic context. These serve as pillars of this Inclusive Education Policy Framework.
International Legal and Standard-setting Instruments
The 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child upholds the rights of children and changed the way children are viewed and treated—from passive objects of care and charity to human beings with a distinct set of rights.
The 1994 Salamanca Statement provides that all children should learn together, wherever possible, regardless of any difficulties or differences they may have.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) aims to promote, protect, and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity. More specifically, Article 24 of the UNCRPD states that “the right of persons with disabilities to education must be recognized with a view to realizing this right without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity” and General Comment 4 outlines what inclusive education is and what countries must do to make it happen (UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), 2016).
The 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples stipulates that Indigenous Peoples (IPs) have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions and that indigenous individuals, particularly children, have the right to all levels and forms of education without discrimination.
The Education 2030 Framework for Action aims at mobilizing all countries and partners around the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Philippine Legal Mandates for Inclusive Education
The 1987 Philippine Constitution (Article XIV, Sections 1 and 2) explicitly upholds the protection and promotion of the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels, which requires the Philippine government, among others, to:
i. Establish, maintain, and support a complete, adequate, and integrated system of education relevant to the needs of the people and society (Section 2(1));
ii. Encourage non-formal, informal, and indigenous learning systems, as well as self-learning, independent, and out-of-school study programs particularly those that respond to community needs (Section 2(4)); and
iii. Provide adult citizens, the disabled, and out-of-school youth with training in civics, vocational efficiency and other skills (Section 2(5)).
Republic Act No. 10533 otherwise known as The Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), define the inclusiveness of enhanced basic education through the implementation of programs designed to address the physical, intellectual, psycho-social and cultural needs of learners, which shall include, but shall not be limited to, Programs for Learners with Disabilities, Programs for Learners under Difficult Circumstances, Madrasah Program, Indigenous Peoples Education Program, and Programs for the Gifted and Talented (Section 8).
Republic Act No. 9710 otherwise known as The Magna Carta of Women, and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), compels the State to provide equal access and to eliminate discrimination in education, scholarships, and training (Section 13). This includes admission, curriculum and educational materials, delivery using gender sensitive language, and capacity-building on Gender and Development (GAD), peace and human rights for teachers and those involved in the education sector.
Republic Act No. 10157 or The Kindergarten Education Act released in 2012 declares the policy of the State to provide equal opportunities for all children to avail of accessible mandatory and compulsory kindergarten education that effectively promotes physical, social, intellectual, emotional and skills stimulation and values formation to sufficiently prepare them for formal elementary schooling.
Republic Act No. 9155 otherwise known as The Governance of Basic Education Act of 2001 enforces the establishment of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) to provide out-of-school youth and adults with basic education.
Republic Act No. 8371 otherwise known as The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 mandates the State to provide equal access to various cultural opportunities to ICCs (Indigenous Cultural Communities]/IPs through the education system without prejudice to their right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions by providing education in their own language, and in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning (Article II, Section 2).
Republic Act No. 9344 or The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 requires educational institutions to work together with families, community organizations and agencies in the prevention of juvenile delinquency and in the rehabilitation and reintegration of child in conflict with the law.
Republic Act No. 9442 (approved in 2007) or An Act Amending Republic Act No. 7277 of 1992, otherwise known as the Magna Carta For Disabled Persons mandates the provision of educational assistance to persons with disabilities, for them to pursue primary, secondary, tertiary, post tertiary education, as well as vocational or technical education, in both public and private schools.
Republic Act No. 10665 of 2015 also known as the Open High School System Act declares the policy of the state to broaden access to relevant quality education through the employment of an alternative secondary education program to overcome personal, geographical, socio-economic, and physical constraints.
Republic Act No. 10361 approved in 2013 otherwise known as the Domestic Workers Act or Batas Kasambahay guarantees that the Kasambahay is afforded the opportunity to finish basic education, which shall consist of elementary and secondary education and mandates the DepEd to ensure their continued access to ALS (Rule IV, Section 16).
Republic Act No. 7610 of 1992 also known as Special Protection Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act declares that it is a State policy to provide special protection to children from all forms of abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation and discrimination, and other conditions prejudicial to their development; provide sanctions for their commission and carry out a program for prevention and deterrence of and crisis intervention in situations of child abuse, exploitation and discrimination.
This policy framework shall guide DepEd programs, both in formal education system and alternative learning system, and in public and private schools; and the support systems that enable their effective implementation.
Definition of Terms
For the purposes of this policy framework, the following terms are defined:
refers to the particular setting, situation, or circumstance of the learner influenced by personal, cultural, political, social, and economic factors (e.g. disability, ethnicity, gender, religion, socialization in the family and the wider community, social history, economic status, personal capabilities, available resources), as well as the specific environment in which the learner lives, interacts with other people, and where learning takes place.
refers to the value of securing the right to education of all learners, and their rights within and through education to realize their potentials and aspirations.
refers to the rights-based appropriation of resources and opportunities for all learners.
refers to any individual, regardless of age, sex, gender, disability, ethnicity, cultures, and religion, enrolled in basic education to enhance his/her knowledge, skills and values to improve the quality of his/her life and to develop his/her potentials.
refers to learning facilities, resources and technology, means of teaching, modes of learning, and connections to community, societal and global contexts towards the total development of the learner.
is a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn (Center for Applied Special Technology 2017).
The Department adopts this policy framework to provide policy guidance in the establishment, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programs and interventions with strategies and support mechanisms that adequately respond to diverse educational needs and contexts of learners.
The Department adheres to the following guiding principles in the pursuit of Inclusive Education:
All learners shall have access to and participate in all aspects of life in school, in learning centers and other places of learning.
Responsiveness to Rights
Inclusive Education contributes to the realization of the Department’s commitment to quality, equitable, culture-based, and complete basic education which is premised on its mandate to protect and promote the right of eveiy Filipino citizen to such education services. The Department subscribes to the Rights-based Approach (RBA), which highlights the recognition, promotion, and protection of rights as the basis for initiatives, and focuses on people empowerment through the introduction and use of the concept of rights as legal entitlements of the people and legal obligations of the government to its people.
Sensitivity and Responsiveness to Context
K to 12 recognizes and values the diverse contexts of learners, schools, and communities, and this diversity guides the design and delivery of basic education programs and interventions.
DepEd recognizes the right of each and every learner to an education that is learner-centered, relevant and appropriate in relation to the learner’s context. Thus, education programs shall be responsive to all learners regardless of sex, disability, culture, ability, age, ethnicity, social class, religious beliefs and other characteristics.
The learners are the primary stakeholders of the Department’s inclusive basic education system. Learners’ participation and representation shall be encouraged in school organizations, in curricular and co-curricular activities, and in education planning, program development and implementation, where appropriate.
The K to 12 Curriculum
Inclusion is a key standard and principle of the K to 12 curriculum and its actualization is supported by other standards and principles that further describe the features of an inclusive curriculum— learner-centered, developmentally appropriate, culture-sensitive, relevant, gender-responsive, and contextualized.
Thus, the perspective of Inclusive Education is at the core of the K to 12 curriculum and is embedded in the curriculum framework itself. This is demonstrated by the Mother Tongue-based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) policy for K to 3, the varied offerings of Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) in Junior High School, and the tracks and strands of Senior High School, all of which are meant to be responsive to the varied context of the country’s learners.
K to 12’s standards-based curriculum was also designed to be flexible enough for schools and local communities to contextualize in relation to the learner’s ability, socio-cultural background, historical context, and bio-geographical realities. Curriculum contextualization provides an avenue to be inclusive of the values, beliefs, practices, and knowledge systems of the learner’s community. Schools, learning centers and communities should be able to provide this kind of contextu alization.
The inclusiveness of K to 12 is also expressed through existing programs such as Special Education, Indigenous Peoples Education, Madrasah Education, and Flexible Learning Options including Alternative Delivery Modes and Alternative Learning System, which address the context and needs of particular learners. Special Interest Programs also cater to learners who manifest the interest and aptitudes for particular skillsets.
To ensure that curriculum contextualization and the implementation of the various programs of the K to 12 curriculum actualize inclusion, and continue to promote equality and equity in developing the learners’ competencies through quality differentiated instruction, the following shall be strengthened and continue to be pursued:
a. Recognition and development of programs or initiatives to address contexts, needs and concerns not covered by existing programs and initiatives of DepEd;
b. Contextualization of the curriculum and learning materials at the school level;
c. Differentiated presentation of information, content, and learning materials to support understanding;
d. Provision of opportunities for learners to create, learn and share what they know in both curricular and non-curricular activities;
e. Provision of equitable and appropriate learning opportunities for all learners to facilitate active participation and shared responsibility and accountability in the teaching-learning process; and,
f. Removal of barriers to learning and participation.
Development of Learning Resources
Aligned with the principles of an inclusive and contextualized curriculum is the development of contextualized learning resources which is stipulated in RA 10533. Both contextualized teaching and learning materials shall be developed and produced at the field offices based on standards set by the Bureau of Learning Resources. These will complement the instructional materials provided by the Department and external partners/stakeholders.
Learning resources (text and non-text based) shall be utilized to engage learners in active participation and interaction using different contexts that promote real life application. The diversities of learners’ abilities, knowledge, learning styles, study habits, interests, motivation, multiple intelligences and other circumstances must be considered in the preparation, development, and delivery of contextualized learning materials and activities. As mentioned in the K to 12 Policy, some of these learning resources are also transcribed into Braille and adapted in other ways (e.g. like having a sign language interpreter in class) to ensure that all learners have access to these materials).
Quality assurance processes shall ensure that learning resources produced are free from any discriminatory content, are appropriate to diverse learners, and are sensitive to social and cultural contexts.
The community as a learning resource shall also be developed and maximized.
The Learning Resource Portal as a repository of learning and teaching resources shall be utilized and maximized.
The inclusiveness of the K to 12 curriculum can be better experienced by learners in the teaching-learning process when different and diverse learners learn together and the delivery of educational programs and services is also made flexible based on the profile, needs, and context of the learners.
Learning sessions shall be based on inclusive and learner-centered pedagogy. Teachers shall regularly monitor learner’s progress and provide appropriate support including timely interventions, as needed.
Schools are encouraged to offer a range of programs that shall serve as a menu of options for different types of learners to ensure that “no learner is left behind”.
Teachers and instructional managers shall maintain an inclusive atmosphere and promote respect at all times, and will take steps to assure that initiatives geared towards differentiated instruction to address varied learning needs shall not be misconstrued by learners and the immediate community as segregation, nor will be a cause of bullying or discrimination.
The school shall ensure the following:
a. Undertaking of anticipatory and proactive initiatives geared towards gaining a better understanding of the learners’ contexts and needs;
b. Recognition of barriers to inclusion and removal of these by putting in place programs and services that adhere to the principles of universal design for learning;
c. Development of school implementing policies, mechanisms, and strategies for delivering equal and equitable opportunities for diverse learners;
d. Involvement of stakeholders – the learners, their parents and/or caregivers, and the immediate community – in meeting learning standards and in identifying and addressing learning gaps of disadvantaged and marginalized learners;
e. Formulation of appropriate and responsive interventions for the disadvantaged and marginalized learners;
f. Enhancement of curriculum implementation by aligning teachinglearning processes, formative and summative assessments and the learning standards deemed appropriate to the learners’ context; and
g. Regular monitoring and evaluation of initiatives by actively involving the learners and other stakeholders as appropriate.
The learner-centered orientation of the K to 12 curriculum and curriculum contextualization also necessitates that learning assessment be inclusive.
Inclusive assessment provides learners varied opportunities to test their mastery of competencies and enables them to participate in several types of activities that enhance their understanding of concepts and ideas. Classroom assessment shall take into account the needs of all learners through the use of varied assessment strategies, methods and tools/equipment such as, but not limited to, tests (oral and written), multiple-choice questions, group presentations, self and peer assessment, role play, creation of audiovisual materials, performance, diaries and portfolio. Assessments shall be adapted according to the principles of universal quality educational design (UDL).
From the physical environment to the teaching-learning process, these learning environments shall be fully accessible and shall enable all learners to feel safe, supported, stimulated, and respected as they express themselves as part of a positive and inclusive school community.
The teaching and learning process shall foster learning in a collaborative and barrier-free setting, promoting the learners’ overall well-being and holistic development. Education shall be delivered in the most appropriate language/s and modes and means of communication for the individual, and in environments which maximize academic and social development.
Further, an inclusive educational environment shall be context-sensitive and consider the bio-geographical realities and socio-cultural background of learners. Schools and learning centers are strongly encouraged to engage in regular dialogue with their immediate community, which inherently plays a big role in providing an inclusive learning environment.
Apart from the availability and accessibility of functional support facilities such as, but not limited to, water and sanitation facilities, clinic, library, Guidance Office, and Community Learning Centers (CLCs), effective individualized support measures shall be provided when needed and appropriate.
Finally, the learning community shall promote harmonious relationships and respect for diversity and practice of positive discipline among learners, teachers, parents, and administrators. It shall ensure that anti-bullying, anti-abuse, and child protection measures and procedures are in place.
Teacher Professional Development
All teachers shall be considered primary implementers of inclusive education. As such, they shall possess the proper values, perspectives, attitudes, as well as competencies that communicate and reflect inclusion as they address the educational needs of diverse learners. The Philippine Professional Standards for Teachers (PPST) includes Domain 3: Diversity of Learners which underscores the importance of teachers’ knowledge and understanding of, as well as respect for, learners’ diverse characteristics and experiences as inputs to the planning and design of learning programs. This includes being able to implement an individualized education program if and when necessary. The Department recognizes the PPST as a major reference in designing interventions geared towards the professional development of teachers, including teacher aides and teacher volunteers. They shall also be capacitated in establishing learning environments that are responsive to learner diversity.
The competencies of teachers, instructional managers and other non-teaching personnel shall be continuously enhanced so that they can create an inclusive learning environment that promotes inclusion of all learners, and facilitates teaching and learning processes that addresses diverse learning styles and needs. Capacity building activities may include, but are not limited to, the Teacher Induction Program (TIP), In-Service Trainings (INSETs), attendance in seminar-workshops/conferences, Learning Action Cell (LAC) sessions, immersion, community engagement, coaching, mentoring and benchmarking.
DepEd through the Teacher Education Council (TEC) shall collaborate with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to ensure the integration of Inclusive Education in all major courses in the Teacher Education Programs (TEP). In the same way, the implementation of Inclusive Education shall influence policies on teacher qualifications, hiring, recruitment, and deployment.
Participation of stakeholders, especially those directly involved in the teaching-learning process, shall be encouraged. They shall likewise be engaged through periodic consultations to further strengthen the implementation of Inclusive Education.
School Leadership and Management
All schools shall be guided by DepEd’s mission to promote and protect the right of every Filipino to quality, equitable, culture-based and complete basic education. This is premised on upholding a deep respect for the inherent dignity of individuals and communities.
To this end, schools are guided by the perspective of Inclusive Education in contextualizing and implementing the K to 12 curriculum, and are encouraged to implement programs that promote inclusion and cater to the various interests of learners to respond to the context of the learners and the communities being served.
The school head has a pivotal role in bringing about inclusive school change (Riehl 2000; Day and Leithwood 2007; Ainscow and Sandill, 2010). They shall assist teachers in creating inclusive classrooms. School mechanisms and process governance mechanisms and processes shall be geared towards facilitating the provision of, but not limited to, the following:
a. Technical support in contextualizing the curriculum and teachinglearning materials, and using learning-centered pedagogy and inclusive assessment;
b. Physical infrastructures that facilitate inclusion; and,
c. Continuous capacity-building on inclusive education of teaching and nonteaching personnel (e.g. LAC sessions, In-Service Trainings, mentorship).
They shall also support the development of research-based improvements in instruction and school management for Inclusive Education. Practices and innovations shall be properly documented for sharing, replication, and for continuous improvement.
All school heads shall be capacitated to prepare and manage schools that promote and implement Inclusive Education. They must adhere to the new Philippine Professional Standards for School Heads (currently being validated) that contain competencies related to supporting Inclusive Education in schools. School-based Management (SBM) shall strengthen the implementation of Inclusive Education, which shall be duly reflected in the School Improvement Plan (SIP).
Partnerships for Inclusive Education
The Department at all levels of governance shall continuously conduct intensive advocacy and social mobilization on Inclusive Education as a perspective, policy, and practice. Support for initiatives in curriculum contextualization and the development of contextualized learning resources are just some activities for which internal and external partners/stakeholders can be tapped.
Continuous engagement with the stakeholders/partners shall be institutionalized in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of curricular and co-curricular programs and activities to ensure quality implementation of Inclusive Education.
External linkages and partnerships must be expanded and strengthened to ensure proper coordination, resource sharing, and sustainability of Inclusive Education implementation.
The Department shall adequately consider the specific needs to realize Inclusive Education in the planning and programming of resources, such as in the provision of program funds, allocation of teacher items and hiring of teachers, resources for adequate instructional print and non-print learning resources, facilities and equipment needed, and support to professional development of teaching and non-teaching staff. National planning standards shall be responsive to the diversity of learning contexts.
The Department shall continuously coordinate with LGUs to maximize the utilization of the Special Education Fund (SEF) and other available local resources. The involvement of internal and external stakeholders shall also be encouraged to support the implementation of inclusion programs.
Monitoring and Evaluation
The Bureau of Learning Delivery (BLD), in coordination with other offices in the Curriculum and Instruction Strand and other organizational strands of the Department, is responsible for learning environment standards to strengthen the curriculum implementation support system. It shall provide technical assistance on the implementation of this policy in schools and learning centers. It shall also monitor regional offices for adequate implementation of this policy. For Indigenous Peoples Education, a monitoring and evaluation system that is culturally sensitive and responsive to the context of IP learners and communities, recognizing the interface of the national education system and indigenous learning systems, shall be maintained across governance levels and continue to be strengthened through the Indigenous Peoples Education Office (IPsEO).
The Regional and Schools Division Offices shall likewise conduct monitoring and evaluation at the division and school levels, respectively. The different units in the Regional and Schools Division Offices shall ensure that schools and programs are inclusive in terms of the curriculum and its support systems.