Is there a legal framework on inclusive education in place for the whole country, for compulsory education (normally primary and secondary schools)?
Children with disabilities should not be excluded from free and compulsory education and should have access to quality education on an equal basis with others in their communities in which they live. The legal framework should encompass a subjective right to inclusive education for every child with disabilities. Inclusive education is not equal to education in special schools or fitting persons with disabilities into existing systems and means a lot more than integrating children with disabilities in mainstream schools. Inclusive education means modifying the mainstream education system, teaching methods etc. to accommodate all learning needs. Number 7 of this questionnaire already asks about the right to receive free and compulsory primary education within the mainstream educational system – to further emphasize on making mainstream schools inclusive question number 17 has its focus on the legal framework and whether such exists, or not.
There are 23 percent of respondents who stated that a legal framework on inclusive education exists in their respective state – children with disabilities in the age of primary and secondary school (compulsory education) have the individual right to participate in mainstream education and their learning needs are met. More than 55 percent of respondents answered yes, with qualification: there is legislation in place for inclusive education but often no time frame is set, the reasonable accommodation to meet the needs of children with disabilities are lacking and most commonly segregated and special schools are still highly promoted and favored by the government. In many cases respondents define their country’s education system rather as integrative than inclusive (Antigua And Barbuda, Austria, Benin, Poland, Ireland, Australia).
Caroline Carswell, Sound Advice, Ireland:
“Too many children are stigmatised with the ‘special’ label when this is not even warranted in the first place. Special schools and units are still widely supported and used in Ireland (all abilities, not just hearing issues).”
Leslie Emanuel, Association of Persons with Disabilities, Antigua and Barbuda:
“There is legislation for inclusive education in place but special schools for segregated education are still actively and widely promoted.”
Julius Mvenyi Ntobuah, Disabled Person Association, Cameroon:
“Yes in Cameroon all schools which belongs to the state is free for disable persons and their children but they is a problem of school needs like books uniform and some of the schools are not disable friendly as regards the building and the distance.”
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.
Article 7: Children with disabilities
States Parties shall take all necessary measures to ensure the full enjoyment by children with disabilities of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with other children.
In all actions concerning children with disabilities, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
States Parties shall ensure that children with disabilities have the right to express their views freely on all matters affecting them, their views being given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity, on an equal basis with other children, and to be provided with disability and age-appropriate assistance to realize that right.
Article 5: Equality and non-discrimination
- States Parties recognize that all persons are equal before and under the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law.
- States Parties shall prohibit all discrimination on the basis of disability and guarantee to persons with disabilities equal and effective legal protection against discrimination on all grounds.
- In order to promote equality and eliminate discrimination, States Parties shall take all appropriate steps to ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided.
- Specific measures which are necessary to accelerate or achieve de facto equality of persons with disabilities shall not be considered discrimination under the terms of the present Convention.