Tuesday, April 23, 2024

A school renovation project maximizes the potential of the deaf community

"The immersive experience really showed me how important these projects are for our students—kung gaano kahalaga ang pagbibigay ng mga pasilidad sa mga mag aaral lalo na sa mga bingi. Our deaf learners need special accommodation to fulfill their special educational needs. They need to have a conducive learning environment so we can optimize the activities and learning programs." ~Shery Funcion, the Principal of the Philippine School for the Deaf (PSD) in Pasay City

Navigating a world that relies heavily on spoken words is difficult enough for those who are hearing-impaired. 
In the Philippines, this challenge widens the gap because opportunities for the deaf are limited, particularly in education and employment. The struggle is exacerbated because only a few secondary learning institutions cater to their specific needs, and affordability and facility conditions further impede their pursuit of skills and knowledge. 

A personal advocacy 

Shery Funcion, Principal of the Philippine School for the Deaf (PSD) in Pasay City, is no stranger to such challenges. 
Her dedication to the cause began with her college thesis, which focused on job opportunities for deaf students. Since then, she has immersed herself in various organizations and volunteer activities, gaining firsthand knowledge of the limited opportunities available to deaf students. 
She eventually became a special education teacher before becoming the principal at PSD. 

She emphasized the importance of providing accommodations for students with hearing impairments.

A facility that produces opportunities 

The collaborative project of the Henry Sy Foundation, SM Foundation (SMFI), and the Department of Education's Schools Division Office of Pasay City equips students with in-demand skills that will prepare them for employment upon graduation.

In the century-old PSD, the senior high school laboratory building serves as a student training ground. Its classrooms and halls, regardless of age, have always played an important role in honing and preparing deaf students for successful careers after PSD. 
Despite competing priorities within the school and the larger Philippine educational system, the facility barely had enough funds for the rehabilitation and major repairs that it required. For years, students and teachers had to deal with issues such as dim lighting, leaking roofs, and uneven floors. These not only raised structural concerns, but also hampered students' overall learning experiences. 
Funcion went on to say that the 2023 collaborative project between the Henry Sy Foundation, the SM Foundation (SMFI), the SM Group's social good arm, and the Pasay City Department of Education's Schools Division Office could not have come at a better time. 

"The rehabilitation of the Home Economics (HE) laboratories is crucial because students need to fulfill their performance tasks. These are vital components of our senior high school program to ensure that they acquire essential skills and competencies for employment post-graduation from PSD." 
PSD now has access to much-needed facilities in dressmaking, beauty care, cookery, electrical, bartending, food and beverage preparation, ICT, and dance thanks to the collaboration. 
Funcion's Henry Sy. The Sr. building is an excellent start that will help to pave the way for equal opportunities and a future in which deaf students' abilities will shine both inside and outside of the classroom. 

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