Is the ministry of education responsible for the education of all children, including children with disabilities?
The lack of coordination across all education providers reduces the opportunities for children with disabilities to attend school. Valuable financial resources can be used more efficiently and inclusion can only be achieved if one government authority, the ministry of education, is responsible for the education of all children.
It is considered highly important by international organisations and DPOs to ensure the education of children with disabilities is under the authority of the mainstream education ministry and not seen as a separate issue or charitable act (DFID). This is not to say that education, health and other ministries should not work together but in order to emphasize inclusion one responsible authority for all children is considered an important milestone. In most countries that is (already) the case: More than half of respondents (57 percent) replied with yes, in their state one authority is responsible for the education of all children. In New Zealand schools are reported to be self managing and autonomous and are required to report to their communities on how they use the funds and how they meet the needs of students with special education needs (Sally Jackson, New Zealand).
Paula Booth, Disabled Persons Assembly Incorporated, New Zealand:
“A group called Education for All has been established to work with the Ministry of Education on the issues facing disabled children accessing education. This group includes people from the disability sector, disabled people and people from the Ministry of Education.”
Lovemore Rambiyawo, National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH), Zimbabwe:
“The ministry of education has a department, the Schools Psychological Services, which is responsible for placing children with disabilities in special schools and in mainstream education schools with separate classes for children with disabilities.”
Article 24: Education
States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to education. With a view to realizing this right without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity, States Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and lifelong learning directed to:
- The full development of human potential and sense of dignity and self-worth, and the strengthening of respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and human diversity;
- The development by persons with disabilities of their personality, talents and creativity, as well as their mental and physical abilities, to their fullest potential;
- Enabling persons with disabilities to participate effectively in a free society.
- In realizing this right, States Parties shall ensure that:
- Persons with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system on the basis of disability, and that children with disabilities are not excluded from free and compulsory primary education, or from secondary education, on the basis of disability;
- Persons with disabilities can access an inclusive, quality and free primary education and secondary education on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live;
- Reasonable accommodation of the individual’s requirements is provided;
- Persons with disabilities receive the support required, within the general education system, to facilitate their effective education;
- Effective individualized support measures are provided in environments that maximize academic and social development, consistent with the goal of full inclusion.
- States Parties shall enable persons with disabilities to learn life and social development skills to facilitate their full and equal participation in education and as members of the community. To this end, States Parties shall take appropriate measures, including:
- Facilitating the learning of Braille, alternative script, augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication and orientation and mobility skills, and facilitating peer support and mentoring;
- Facilitating the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the deaf community;
- Ensuring that the education of persons, and in particular children, who are blind, deaf or deafblind, is delivered in the most appropriate languages and modes and means of communication for the individual, and in environments which maximize academic and social development.
- In order to help ensure the realization of this right, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to employ teachers, including teachers with disabilities, who are qualified in sign language and/or Braille, and to train professionals and staff who work at all levels of education. Such training shall incorporate disability awareness and the use of appropriate augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, educational techniques and materials to support persons with disabilities.
- States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities are able to access general tertiary education, vocational training, adult education and lifelong learning without discrimination and on an equal basis with others. To this end, States Parties shall ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided to persons with disabilities.