Inclusive education is central to achieving high quality education for all learners, including those with disabilities, and for the development of inclusive, peaceful and fair societies, UN human rights experts have said in authoritative new guidelines on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on September 1, 2016.
“Millions of persons with disabilities are denied an education, and for many more, education is available only in settings where they are isolated from their peers,” the experts from the Committee on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) say in the guidelines, officially termed a General Comment, published today.
Education of persons with disabilities is often poor quality, sets low expectations and limits learners’ opportunities, the Committee notes. By contrast, a truly inclusive learning environment values the contribution and potential of persons with disabilities, and equips them with essential life, language and social skills.
“The right to inclusive education means transforming culture, policy and practice in all formal and informal educational environments to ensure education is for all learners,” said CRPD Chairperson Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes. “Inclusive education is important not only for persons with disabilities but the societies they live in, as it helps to combat discrimination, and to promote diversity and participation.”
The General Comment provides guidance for the 166 States that have ratified the Convention on meeting their obligations under Article 24, under which “States Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and life-long learning.”
“Placing students with disabilities in mainstream classes without accompanying structural changes to, for example, organisation, curriculum and teaching and learning strategies, does not constitute inclusion,” the document states.
Rather inclusive education “focuses on the full and effective participation, accessibility, attendance and achievement of all students, especially those who, for different reasons, are excluded or at risk of being marginalized.”
It means the entire education system, whether State-run or private, must be accessible, including buildings, information and communication, education materials, teaching methods, assessment, language and support services, school transport, water and sanitation facilities at schools, school cafeterias and recreational spaces.
“Enabling inclusive education requires an in-depth transformation of education systems in legislation, policy and the way education is financed, administered, designed, taught and monitored. We hope our General Comment will guide and aid States toward achieving this goal,” said Ms. Cisternas Reyes.
CRPD is composed of 18 independent human rights experts drawn from around the world. They serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Committee’s concluding observations are an independent assessment of States’ compliance with their human rights obligations under the treaty. More information on the CRPD: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRPD/Pages/CRPDIndex.aspx
In 2015-2016, the Zero Project focused on Inclusive Education and ICTs. Our team collected information about the situation of persons with disabilities in (and out of) education from around the world with the help of its Social Indicators and presented numerous Innovative Practices and Policies that have advanced the transformation of education systems in legislation and in practice in high and low income contexts, so that all children, including those with disabilities, are included.