UN releases new guidance on inclusive education

The United Nations committee tasked with enforcing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is calling on countries to meet their educational obligations to students with disabilities.

“Enabling inclusive education requires an in-depth transformation of education systems in legislation, policy and the way education is financed, administered, designed, taught and monitored,”  CRPD Chairperson Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes said in a news release. “We hope our General Comment will guide and aid States toward achieving this goal.”

Under Article 24 of the Convention,“States Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and life-long learning.”

As elaborated within the 24-page guidance document released on September 2, known as a “General Comment,” the Convention requires that member states provide “non-discrimination in all aspects of education,” provide reasonable accommodations to students, and ensure “compulsory, free primary education to all.”

“The right to inclusive education encompasses a transformation in culture, policy and practice in all formal and informal educational environments to accommodate the differing requirements and identities of individual students, together with a commitment to remove the barriers that impede that possibility,” the guidance states. “It involves strengthening the capacity of the education system to reach out to all learners. It focuses on the full and effective participation, accessibility, attendance and achievement of all students, especially those who, for different reasons, are excluded or at risk of being marginalized.

“Inclusion involves access to and progress in high-quality formal and informal education without discrimination. It seeks to enable communities, systems and structures to combat discrimination, including harmful stereotypes, recognize diversity, promote participation and overcome barriers to learning and participation for all by focusing on well-being and success of students with disabilities.”

Adopted in 2007, 166 nations have ratified the Convention. President Obama signed the treaty in 2009, but it has not yet been ratified by the Senate.

In total, the CRPD  has now released four so-called “General Comments,” all of which can be read here.