By Nancy Pascual
True to its purpose, my Australia Awards experience at QUT gave me the golden opportunity to appreciate how inclusive education is fostered in theory and practice. We had very meaningful exposure to the policies, the cultural practices, and the leadership involved in fostering inclusion not just in schools but also in the community. Rightful to the new insights and strategies, I have been able to step forward with significant improvement in the way I think about inclusive education in the Philippine education system. It made me transpose my mental model from ‘special education’ to inclusive education. Knowing the difference was a significant step that I share to my colleagues and our educational leaders, educators and organizations advocating for inclusion.
QUT has been a long term partner for the Philippine government in fostering inclusive education providing various initiatives such as facilitating the development of a legislation/policy on inclusive education in the Philippines: the Inclusive Education Bill, as well as training teachers and educational leaders to implement inclusive strategies. The program has also enabled me to implement important initiatives that have brought about positive impact towards better education for all Filipino children, and particularly to children and youth with disability.
I am now the Focal Person for SPED and Inclusion Education Program in the Department of Education, Philippines. I lead the policy development related to Special Education and Inclusive Education to be implemented across the country as I also coordinate with other government offices and non-government organizations to promote and support all children and youth with disability/developmental delays to access quality and equitable education through their Inclusion in the nearest school to their respective residence.