De La Salle College – Saint Benilde, Philippines

After revisiting the vision-mission of the College, De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (Benilde) formalized its identity as an inclusive and innovative institution in 2013. Under the guidance of its then-new Brother President, the College created a committee focusing on inclusion. This group paved the way for what is now known as Benildean Inclusion. As the number of students with specific learning needs (SLN) increased, the creation of a unit focusing on assisting such students was deemed necessary. Hence in 2015, the Center for Inclusive Education (CIE) was established under the Office of the President (OP). Thus, the then-Brother President, Br. Dennis Magbanua FSC, spearheaded the College’s thrust towards inclusion in 2013, including the creation of an ad hoc committee which conceptualized the creation of the Center for Inclusive Education in 2015. It was also during this year when the Center officially became operational – with the Learning Support Office (LSO) focusing on assisting students with SLN and the Advocacy and Research Office (ARO) ensuring that the Benildean Community is an inclusive environment for all. After years of preparation, the inclusion framework of Benilde was finally signed in 2019 by the President’s Council. Called the Benildean for All Framework (BAF), this document serves as the basis of all inclusion-related efforts of the College.

In the last two years, the following activities were carried out with regard to equal access/inclusion/diversity:
• Lectures, workshops, seminars for students, faculty and non-teaching staff
• Training courses for peer educators
• Public promotion (e.g. production of media content such as podcasts)
• Improving digital accessibility
• Academic support to students
• Socialization-related programs for students
• Research advising for students, faculty, staff, and partners
• Policy development
• Module development

The revisiting of the mission-vision of Benilde in 2013 – which focused on inclusion and innovation – as well as the reality that there are numerous students with learning needs enrolled, served as the main motivations for the creation of CIE.
Most national policies related to inclusion are focused on Basic Education. There are no specific laws which requires colleges and universities to have a center like CIE.
“In early-2019, CIE was officially transferred to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academics (OVCA). This move was done to further organize the structure of the different centers of Benilde – with all academic-related units being under the OVCA. In March 2020, because of the pandemic, the Center shifted its efforts of assisting students with SLN and ensuring the Benildean Community is inclusive to online modality. During this period, the members of CIE maximized different online platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Zoom to reach out to the members of Benilde. It was also during this time when the Center, through the mandate of the College, reorganized its structure and renamed its units: the LSO was changed to the Learning Support Unit (LSU) while the ARO transitioned to the Inclusion Advocacy Unit (IAU) – with the research component being absorbed by the Director’s Office. So, there are three main units in the Center: 1. Director’s Office – leads the whole team in making sure that the mandate of the Center is followed and the vision-mission is fulfilled; 2. Learning Support Unit – ensures that students with learning needs reach their full potential by providing case management services, conducting case conferences and consultations, and administering training and orientations; and 3. Inclusion Advocacy Unit – cultivates the culture of inclusion in the community by providing advising services, producing digital and printed publications, facilitating and conducting inclusion-related events, workshops, and training, and developing policies and modules. Currently, CIE has five members in the team serving the whole Benildean Community with around 150 students directly under its care. “
The biggest possible obstacle for the funding of CIE is the event wherein the enrollment of Benilde would go down. Though this will not totally stop the operations of the Center, some projects that need funding might be affected.
“Feedback forms are given after every event, workshop, or training (these include both quantitative and qualitative indicators); Feedback from stakeholders (i.e. students, faculty, staff, and parents) is taken during meetings (this provides qualitative indicators on the handling of students’ learning needs); The count for the graduates is taken from the Registrar’s Office after every graduation (quantitative indicators). The reports are shared internally within the team and, if requested, shared with the Vice Chancellor for Academics through email. “

Center for Inclusive Education

Saint Benilde, Philippines