Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said he will push for separate line items for the budgets of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) and Special Education (SPED).

Gatchalian already made the call during the Senate Committee on Finance’s hearing on the proposed budget of the Department of Education (DepEd) and its attached agenices for 2023 last Friday, September 30.

The DepEd has proposed a P532-million budget for SPED but the program is unfunded under the proposed 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP).

Funding for the ALS, on the other hand, is lodged under flexible learning options (FLOs).

Gatchalian said it is imperative to support ALS learners and learners with disabilities considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and school closures of ALS and SPED institutions.

Citing data from DepEd as of March 14, 2022, the senator noted there are 126,598 learners with disabilities enrolled in DepEd schools for School Year (SY) 2021-2022, 65 percent lower than the 360,879 recorded for SY 2019-2020.

For SY 2021-2022, there were 472,869 learners enrolled in ALS, or 38 percent lower compared to pre-pandemic levels.

“Hopefully, we can allocate an additional budget for SPED, I think that is an item that we can improve on,” Gatchalian said.

“We can also improve on the allocation for ALS. Traditionally we are encouraging the department to create a separate line item for that so that ALS will have its own line item to spend,” Gatchalian said.

The lawmaker is co-author and sponsor of Republic Act No. 11650 or the “Instituting a Policy of Inclusion and Services for Learners with Disabilities in Support of Inclusive Education Act.”

The law mandates all public and private schools to ensure equitable access to quality education to every learner with disability, such that student shall be denied admission on the basis of disability.

Source: Manila Bulletin (