Two public SPED centers receive special software, PCs, internet connection from Globe Telecom and Autism Society Philippines

P.Villanueva_Photo(in photo: Jeff Tarayao, Globe Head for Corporate Social Responsibility speaks before parents of special childrenduring the turnover of the VizZle visual learning software, desktop computers, and free one-year internet connection to P. Villanueva Elementary School in Pasay City)

Two of the biggest public Special Education (SPED) Centers in Metro Manila have been awarded desktop computers with special software and free one-year internet connection by Autism Society of the Philippines and Globe Telecom, respectively, to aid children with special learning and communication needs. 

P. Gomez Elementary School in Sta. Cruz, Manila and P. Villanueva Elementary School in Pasay City were chosen to pilot-test the VizZle visual learning software which will be implemented beginning the incoming school year. An initial batch of 12 teachers, seven from P. Gomez and five from P. Villanueva, already started undergoing training. 

P. Gomez SPED Center has 28 teachers taking care of over 400 pupils, about 25 of which have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Prior to the entry of Globe and ASP, the school has no computer laboratory. On the other hand, P. Villanueva has 24 SPED teachers handling less than 300 pupils. Its eight PCs were also donated by ASP.

The turnover ceremonies were held as a contribution of Globe and ASP to the fourth annual World Autism Awareness Day which encourages activities that will help increase and develop people’s knowledge of autism and impart information on the importance of its early diagnosis and early intervention. 

“I think the next frontier for Globe is providing connectivity for social inclusion. We can begin with special children and later on, maybe also persons with disabilities. The challenge is in finding a way for internet connectivity to be more relevant to special children. That’s why we are glad to work with ASP. We believe that the key to utilizing technology in the school set-up is getting help in delivering the use of technology. Without a systematic or organized way of using the Internet in social institutions like schools, we may not be as successful,” said Jeffrey O. Tarayao, Head of Globe Corporate Social Responsibility. 

There are currently only 231 public SPED centers in the country with an alarming 25:1 student-teacher ratio. The figure leaves no room for dedicated attention for the unique needs of students which have a mixed host of disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, hearing/speech/visual/physical impairment, among others. Moreover, most of them have outdated, non-functioning computers and non-existent internet connection. 

Cristina Estampador, ASP Program Director and Board of Trustees member, said that while VizZle is primarily designed for children with ASD, it can also be customized to fit those with mental and physical disabilities. Through VizZle, she said learning can be made easier and fun since the software delivers the visuals, the auditory and the kinesthetic experience to the students. 

ASP, being a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of persons with ASD, was able to acquire a technical grant of two full licenses of VizZle, a multi-awarded visual learning software that has the capability to add video and audio and share lessons across a web-based library. It was created through collaborations with the Monarch Center for Autism and Children’s Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School.