24 - Education
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Draft article 17
30. The Committee noted that education laid the foundation for the participation by persons with disabilities in society as a whole throughout their lives, and that inclusiveness was one of the main themes of the Article (and of the convention more generally). There was a need to balance this with the other main theme of education options for persons with disabilities.
31. There was general agreement in the Committee that the obligations of States in this draft article should not be qualified, and it was noted that the issue of progressive realisation of economic, social and cultural rights could be dealt with in an earlier general article that applies to the whole convention including this paragraph.
32. There was otherwise general acceptance of the first sentence of paragraph 1 of the Working Group text. There was also general support to include, as the second and third sentences of paragraph 1, a proposal on inclusiveness in the general education system.
33. There was general agreement to replace “children with disabilities” with “persons with disabilities” throughout this draft articles, except in subparagraph 1d of the Working Group text, where the word “child” would continue to be more appropriate.
34. There was also general agreement to include the word “creativity” in paragraph 1(c).
35. The Committee noted the important reference to the “best interests of the child” in paragraph 1(d), and agreed that the paragraph should not use weaker language than was employed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. But there were divergent views on whether Article 17 was the appropriate place for such a reference. There were also divergent views on whether to retain the reference to “individualised education plans” from the Working Group text. Some delegations supported the idea, but could not agree as to how it should be expressed. Other delegations wanted the reference deleted.
36. Following the discussion, paragraph 1 currently reads:
1. States Parties recognise the right of all persons with disabilities to education with a view to achieving this right [progressively and] on the basis of equal opportunity. States Parties commit themselves to the goal of inclusiveness of their general education systems. Where exceptionally the general education system does not adequately meet the needs of persons with disabilities, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure [quality/effective] alternative forms of education, bearing in mind the goal of full inclusion. The education of persons with disabilities shall be directed to:
(a) the full development of the human potential and sense of dignity and self worth, and the strengthening of respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and human diversity;
(b) enabling all persons with disabilities to participate effectively in a free society;
(c) the development of the personality, creativity, talents and mental and physical abilities of persons with disabilities to their fullest potential.
(d) the best interests of the child, which shall be of primary consideration, [in particular by individualising education [plans] [and methods]];
37. On paragraph 2(c), there was some support to add the word “secondary”. In doing so, the Committee noted that the reference, which now reads “free and compulsory primary or secondary education”, did not create any new obligation for States to provide free and compulsory secondary education. Rather, the provision is a non-discrimination one, and means that if a State did provide free and compulsory secondary education to the general population, then it should also be provided to persons with disabilities.
38. Paragraph 2 currently reads:
2. In realising this right States Parties shall ensure:
(a) that all persons with disabilities [choose inclusive and accessible quality/effective education] [have access to quality/effective education in the general education system] [throughout their lives] [to the extent possible] in the communities in which they live (including access to early childhood and pre-school education);
(b) required support, including specialised training of teachers, school counsellors and psychologists, an accessible curriculum, an accessible teaching medium and technologies, alternative and augmentative communication modes, alternative learning strategies, accessible physical environment, or other reasonable accommodations to ensure the full participation of students with disabilities;
(c) ensure that no person with disabilities is excluded from free and compulsory primary or secondary education, or denied access to education, on account of their disability;
39. There was general support to replace paragraph 3 of the Working Group text. Some delegations favoured broadening the coverage of this paragraph to include all persons with disabilities. But the Committee accepted that this might be used as a basis for excluding all children with disabilities from the general education system. There was general support, however, that children with particular disabilities, such as blind, deaf and deafblind children, may need to commence their learning in an environment that is more specific to their needs. This would allow them to gain maximum benefit from a fully inclusive general education system, and ultimately more effectively participate in society.
40. One proposal, that received some support, reads:
3. States Parties shall ensure that blind, deaf and deafblind children and young persons have the right to choose education in their own groups and settings, where they shall be provided with the same level of support and standards, consistent with other provisions in this article.
41. The Ad Hoc Committee debated the issue of acquisition of life skills. While some delegations supported including this issue in a separate draft article 17bis, most delegations were in favour of including the concept in this paragraph. Many delegations also emphasised the importance of training as well as education.
42. The Ad Hoc Committee also agreed to use the same language on types of communication that was proposed during the discussion of draft article 13. b
43. Paragraph 4 currently reads:
4. States Parties shall ensure that children with sensory and communication disabilities may choose to be taught sign language or Braille, as appropriate, and to receive the curriculum in sign language, or Braille, or augmentative alternative communication or other accessible means, modes and formats of communication. States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure [quality/effective] education to students with sensory disabilities by ensuring the employment of teachers who are fluent in sign language or Braille. States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure that people with disabilities have the opportunity to learn the life, social development, orientation and mobility skills that are required for people with disabilities to participate on an equal basis with others as members of the community.
44. There was general agreement to retain paragraph 5 of the Working Group text.
45. Paragraph 5 currently reads:
5. States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities may access general, tertiary education, vocational training, adult education and lifelong learning on an equal basis with others. To that end, States Parties shall render appropriate [assistance/support] to persons with disabilities.
46. The draft article was referred to the facilitator (Rosemary Kayess, Australia) for further discussion.