24 - Education
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Draft Article 17
• 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, the education of children56 with disabilities shall be directed to:57
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. he development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;
d. take into account the best interests of the child, in particular by individualising education plans;
• In realising this right, States Parties shall ensure:
a. that all persons with disabilities can choose inclusive and accessible education in their own community (including access to early childhood and pre-school education);58
b. the provision of required support, including the specialised training of teachers,59 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. that no child with disabilities is excluded from free and compulsory primary education on account of their disability.
• States Parties shall ensure that where the general education system does not adequately meet the needs of persons with disabilities special and alternative forms of learning60 should be made available. Any such special and alternative forms of learning should:61
a. reflect the same standards and objectives provided in the general education system;
b. be provided in such a manner to allow children with disabilities to participate in the general education system to the maximum extent possible;62
c. allow a free and informed choice between general and special systems;
d. in no way limit the duty of States Parties to continue to strive to meet the needs of students with disabilities in the general education system.
• States Parties shall ensure that children with sensory disabilities may choose to be taught sign language or Braille, as appropriate, and to receive the curriculum in sign language or Braille. States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure quality education to students with sensory disabilities by ensuring the employment of teachers who are fluent in sign language or Braille.63
• 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 to persons with disabilities.
55: The Ad Hoc Committee may wish to consider whether this draft Article should cover training more extensively, drawing together the provisions on training in other Articles.
56: The Ad Hoc Committee may wish to consider whether the focus of the chapeau should be solely on 'children', since other provisions of this draft Article refer to 'persons' with disabilities.
57: Paragraph 1 of this draft Article draws on Article 13(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Article 29(1) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It does not quote those sources in full, but rather selects those elements that have particular relevance to persons with disabilities. The Ad Hoc Committee may wish to give further consideration to this approach.
58: The intent of this draft Article is to provide the right to choose inclusive and accessible education. There is no intention to create an obligation on students with disabilities to attend general schools where their needs may not be adequately met. The Ad Hoc Committee may wish to consider whether the wording of this paragraph is sufficiently clear.
59: The Ad Hoc Committee may wish to consider whether this draft Article should also include the employment of teachers with disabilities in the general education system (see, for example, Article 10(d) of the Indian proposal), the removal of legislative barriers to persons with disabilities becoming teachers, and raising awareness among teachers of the needs of children with disabilities.
60: The term 'learning' does not have the same meaning as the term 'education'. The Ad Hoc Committee may wish to consider which is the most appropriate word. An alternative word in this paragraph could be 'provision'.
61: While members of the Working Group considered that choice was an important element of this paragraph, some members considered that the right to education was more important. Other members would have liked greater emphasis on the best interests of the child in this choice.
Different approaches were also identified to setting out the relationship between the provision of specialist education services and the general education system. Some members considered that education of children with disabilities in the general education system should be the rule, and the provision of specialist education services the exception. Others thought that specialist education services should be provided not only where the general education system is inadequate, but should rather be made available at all times without a presumption that one approach was more desirable than the other. Some members of the Working Group, for example, highlighted the need for deaf and blind children to be allowed to be educated in their own groups. If the latter approach were to be taken, the Working Group considered that there should still be an explicit obligation on the state to make the general education system accessible to students with disabilities, without limiting the individual's ability to choose either the general system or the specialist services.
62: The intention of this sub-paragraph is to ensure that the general education system and specialist education services are not mutually exclusive options, and that there is a range of options in between that are available.
63: Some members of the Working Group preferred to keep this paragraph specific to children with sensory disabilities to allow, for example, deaf children to be taught in sign language. Other members questioned whether it should be broadened to include all children who might need alternative communication modes. In either case, there was agreement that wherever sign language, Braille, or alternative communication systems are taught and used, it should be in addition to, and not instead of, the teaching of written or spoken national languages. The Ad Hoc Committee may also consider whether this issue could be addressed in draft Article 13 on freedom of expression and opinion.