Is sufficient public funding available to ensure that all children with disabilities in primary and secondary schools of the mainstream education system receive learning opportunities equal to their non-disabled peers?
Reasonable accommodation has to be provided, meaning the sum of many single measures meeting the special needs of all children with disabilities – buildings and classrooms have to be accessible, transportation to school has to be available; information and assistive technologies have to be used,sign language should be used etc – and all measures to enable children with disabilities to engage in mainstream schools need to be provided for free or at the same cost as for all other learners.
In order to enable children with disabilities to being educated at mainstream schools for free also the assistive devices, special teaching support, alternative teaching methods, transportation to and from school etc. need to be provided for free. This however is only feasible if public funding is available for the schools to cover these additional costs. The result of the questionnaire responses shows a negative picture: only 9 percent of respondents stated that in their country there is sufficient public funding available to ensure that all children with disabilities receive the same learning opportunities than their non-disabled peers. 50 percent answered with a clear no. In several countries there is only public funding available for special schools (Pakistan, Ukraine) and in others only certain disabilities can be covered to enable participation at mainstream schools (United Kingdom). For children with disabilities from rural areas it is even more difficult to receive free education at mainstream schools- often the funding is only available for schools in urban settlements and children from rural and therefore often more disadvantaged areas are left behind (South Africa, India).
Marque Pretorius, Victory Over Disability Homes, South Africa: “The greater concern is with children in rural area’s and the disadvantaged across the spectrum.”
Sally Jackson, Ministry of Education, New Zealand)
“The Government funds building accommodations in all new schools and funds modifications to existing buildings where students with disabilities are enrolled. Funding for transport to and from school for students with disabilities is Government funded. Assistive technology is also funded. The Government has also introduced NZSL@School which is new funding to support students who need NZSL to access the curriculum.”
Article 9 Accessibility
- To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. These measures, which shall include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, shall apply to, inter alia:
- Buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, medical facilities and workplaces;
- Information, communications and other services, including electronic services and emergency services.
- States Parties shall also take appropriate measures:
- To develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public;
- To ensure that private entities that offer facilities and services which are open or provided to the public take into account all aspects of accessibility for persons with disabilities;
- To provide training for stakeholders on accessibility issues facing persons with disabilities;
- To provide in buildings and other facilities open to the public signage in Braille and in easy to read and understand forms;
- To provide forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including guides, readers and professional sign language interpreters, to facilitate accessibility to buildings and other facilities open to the public;
- To promote other appropriate forms of assistance and support to persons with disabilities to ensure their access to information;
- To promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the Internet;
- To promote the design, development, production and distribution of accessible information and communications technologies and systems at an early stage, so that these technologies and systems become accessible at minimum cost.
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.