Asst. Prof. Karen Sagun-Ongtangco, MSOT, MRS, OTRP, OTR of the Department of Occupational Therapy of the College of Rehabilitation Sciences presented an action research entitled, “Embracing Challenges Amidst Diverging Views in Philippine Public Schools: Voices of Parents and Teachers in Transitioning to Disability-Inclusive Settings” in the 7th International Higher Education Research Forum. This international conference is organized by the Philippine Higher Education Research Consortium and was held from August 27-29, 2019 at Novotel Hotel, Quezon City.

In this study, six focus group discussions engaged 23 teachers in eight public elementary schools, and 22 parents of students with disability enrolled in these schools. Through inductive analysis using NVivo 12, two major themes emerged: the personas that drive the transition and operationalizing the vision for inclusive education, which present itself in a cause-and-effect relationship.  Public school stakeholders are compliance driven, which result in superficial abrupt reforms. In the narratives of parent anxiety, professionals’ dissenting views and teacher-focused practices, stakeholders have identified the need for collaboration among the school, parents, and communities, notwithstanding the importance of readiness in adapting a more inclusive culture and processes in public schools.

The presented research is part of the series of commissioned researches for the recently concluded inclusive education program of Save the Children called KASALI or Kabataang Aralin sa Lahat ay Ibahagi.

The conference aimed to strengthen and mainstream research outputs of Higher Education Institution (HEIs) in various fields and disciplines. With this, Sagun-Ongtangco highlighted how the college is responsive to identified local needs through its partnership with Save the Children.

Apart from teaching, Sagun-Ongtangco is also a researcher affiliated with the Research Center for Social Sciences and Education.