By Roy Mabasa
The United States government on Thursday launched a Php92.3 million literacy project that will enable visually and hearing impaired children, including those who are deaf, blind and deaf-blind, to gain access to quality education.
Implemented through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the project called Gabay: Strengthening Inclusive Education for Blind/Deaf Children, is in partnership with the Department of Education and Resources for Blind, Inc. (RBI).
In a statement, the USAID said Gabay will work with local governments in the provinces of Batangas, Sorsogon, and Southern Leyte, to identify children from kindergarten to grade three with vision and hearing impairments, so that they can receive literacy support early-on.
“The United States is a strong advocate of disability policies and programs. We believe that people with disabilities have and should have all the same rights as others,” USAID Mission Director Lawrence Hardy said during the launching of the new project in Quezon City.
Under the project, USAID and RBI will increase the capacity of service providers and health workers to detect the needs of, and provide services to, children with visual and hearing impairments, improve teachers’ abilities to prepare and deliver appropriate learning plans, and enhance local government and communities’ responsiveness to the needs of people with disabilities.
At the project’s launching, Hardy II and representatives from the DepEd and RBI led the signing of the pledge of commitment to help the visually and hearing impaired children.
USAID facts showed that globally, the disability population continues to be overrepresented among the world’s illiterate and economically poor, due to barriers in access to quality, equitable, and inclusive education. Investing in quality inclusive education can lead to a 7% gain in national GDP.
The latest USAID project for the visually and hearing impaired sector is part of the U.S. government’s commitment to improving the quality of basic education to support broad-based and inclusive growth in the country.