Draft Article 17
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.