If a legal framework towards inclusive education exists for compulsory education (normally primary and secondary schools): Is there a funding mechanism in place as well, including the re-allocating of public budgets from a segregated, special school system towards inclusive mainstream schools?
Even when a legal framework is in place, in most countries many obstacles exist and prevent systems and societies from changing. The main reason is a lack of resources and public budgets. Still, in almost all countries, public budgets are provided for the existing segregated school system, with special schools in the heart of this system. Thus, in many countries, change will only happen, when those existing public budgets are effectively – in most cases slowly, but steadily – re-allocated towards inclusive education, and the budgets for special schools are (slowly but steadily) reduced towards: adjusting curricula, teach the trainers and teachers how to provide assistance, in the usage of assistive devices and of accessible learning material.
The lack of public funds often prevents schools to provide reasonable accommodation, to train teachers in inclusive education and therefore to offer education at mainstream schools to children with disabilities. Only 17 percent of respondents stated that their country has a mechanism in place where the funds for special schools can be reallocated and used to make the mainstream education system inclusive: 35 percent replied with no – in more than one third of the 129 countries covered by the questionnaire such reallocation of public funds is not possible.
Leslie Emanuel, Antigua & Barbuda Association of Persons with Disabilities, Antigua and Barbuda: “There is only little funding available to make the mainstream education system inclusive. Funds are allocated for special schools and cannot be used to make the mainstream education system inclusive. The Ministry of Education lacks the necessary trained personnel in schools to adequately cater to children with disabilities in even the special schools and mainstream schools.”
Susanna Tadevosyan, NGO “Bridge of Hope”, Armenia: “Inclusive schools get additional funding from the state budget to hire specialist teachers for additional services to children with disabilities in inclusive schools. The budget of special schools will be allocated to regional pedagogical-psychological support centers for inclusive schools. The transformation of special schools into regional pedagogical-psychological support centers for inclusive schools and accordingly the allocation of funds to this centers starts from 2016 and will be expanded province by province every year and by 2022 all special schools will be transformed into such centers with exception of 1 school for children with hearing impairment and 1 school for visual impairment.”
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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.