Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, several questions have arisen concerning the department’s ability to deliver accessible and quality education to all learners. Moreover, this concern gained considerable attention when the receiving end of this concern are the learners with special needs. To address this concern, Bukidnon National High School in the Division of Malaybalay City initiated the SPED Drive-Thru. This program aims to establish learning centers at different strategic locations in the neighboring barangays and municipalities so that education will be made accessible to the SPED learners.
As the overall program coordinator and school principal, Susan S. Olana, PhD reasoned “In the end, we need to make sure that we are able to equip these learners with the necessary tools to make them able to survive on their own, and we feel that it is our duty to make sure that happens, and it is our responsibility to ensure education is made accessible for them”. This was the kind of dedication and enthusiasm that transcended to the SPED teachers that emboldened them to do what seems necessary for these learners.
To determine the best possible course of action, considering this is a pilot project, several activities have been undertaken to ensure everything will work out as planned. Just recently, the teachers conducted an online survey with the learners’ parents to determine the modality best appropriate for their children. Considering behavioral restrictions, it was found that modular instruction suited them best as opposed to doing Radio-Based Instruction and Online Learning.
The next course of action took the SPED teachers on an hour and a half trip (about 67.4 kms), to meet individually with the students to assess their reading competency as well as meeting with the parents and Education Committee chairperson of the barangay for information dissemination. It was then agreed that the local barangay will provide the venue as well as the permit from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for a special identification card to the learners to attend the session provided it will not violate the guidelines of the Inter Agency Task Force and the Department of Health.
The final phase of the program involved coordination meeting with the SPED Assistant Coordinator, Ms. Francisca Pagobo, MT-I who explained “We have successfully established several learning centers in and around the city to try to encourage our learners especially those that need special care to not just enroll but be actively engaged in their own learning. She further added “This is the only way we are able to give these learners at least a fighting chance in life, and although the pandemic has made it a bit more difficult for us to do our jobs, we cannot just sit around and wait for this health crisis to end, we need to be proactive to ensure that the education these learners rightfully deserve is delivered”.
Currently, the SPED program of BNHS cater to learners who are hearing impaired (HI’s), learners with learning disabilities but that are educable, learners with intellectual disabilities but that are trainable, and learners with minor autism. As an institution who prides itself in doing everything above pride and excellence, the SPED Drive-Thru is truly an epitome of the realization of that mantra.