Does a person with disability 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. This question refers to children and 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.
In regards to inclusive education and the right for children with disabilities to receive free and quality education 39 percent of respondents replied that the right exists and children with disabilities receive education. 52 percent replied yes with qualifications, since in many countries children with disabilities have the right to receive free and quality education – but in special or segregated schools. The most mentioned comment of respondents is the fact that governments still highly promote and favor segregation and special schools over inclusive mainstream schools and often highlight to parents the benefit and advantage compared to inclusion. (Moldova, Denmark, Pakistan, Finland, Greece, Australia, Austria, India, Japan, Burundi, Benin, South Africa). The admission often lies in the responsibility of each school and it was stated by the respondents that admission is often denied to children with disabilities (India, Netherlands, Honduras). Many schools and curricula are not accessible – which is, quoting the experts – often due to lacking funds (Cameroon, Canada, Italy, New Zealand) and/or due to the shortage or non-existence of trained specialists and teachers who can meet the learning needs of children with disabilities (India, Azerbaijan, Poland).
RAJASREE VRINDAVAN, St. Joseph College, India: “As per law every child with disability has a right to free and compulsory education up to the age of 18. The reality shows that children with disabilities are often denied admission in schools and are forced to go to special schools. The teachers in the schools are not trained, there are no provisions like access to classroom, toilet, teaching learning material, aids and appliances in mainstream schools and hence children many times voluntarily opt for special education.”
Nyunt Thane, Myanmar Down Syndrome Association, Myanmar: “Legal Provision is there but actual implementation in reality is a slow process”.
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.