Does a child with disabilities have the right to receive free and compulsory primary education within the mainstream educational system?
Persons with disabilities must not be excluded from mainstream education – whether primary or secondary. Mainstream education must be both inclusive and of quality. All necessary support must be provided to ensure full and effective inclusion. Together with “child”, this question refers also to adults with disabilities who lacked the opportunities when they were young. Please describe any significant differences between the legal situation and the reality of everyday life.
Relates to Convention Article:
- No.24, Education
Article 24 prescribes that “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”.
Since there is a fundamental organisational distinction in Austria and most other countries between primary school and the other levels of education, primary education, in particular, was singled out in this question. The question asks whether every child, or adults with disabilities who lacked the opportunities when they were young (as this is relevant for persons with mental disabilities), has the right to an inclusive education. All necessary support must be provided to ensure complete and efficient inclusion.
Generally speaking, in most of the countries a child receives education within the mainstream educational system. Only 13 out of 130 countries surveyed gave a clear “No” including three EU countries (Belgium, Greece and the UK). From the comments a remarkable situation can be seen in Belgium where children are normally not integrated in the mainstream education system but in a system of special education that is not particularly inclusive. Even worse, schools have the right to refuse disabled children. The situation in Finland is similar: instead of “special schools” children are segregated in “special classes”. The situation in the less developed countries is generally bad and probably related both to the non-compulsory primary education and to the relatively high rate of illiteracy in those countries.