“An estimated 93 million children – 1 in 20 of those aged up to 14 years old – live with a moderate or severe disability. In most low and middle-income countries, children with disabilities are more likely to be out of school than any other group of children. Children with disabilities have very low rates of initial enrolment. Even if they do attend school, children living with disabilities are often more likely to drop out and leave school early. For those children with disabilities who actually manage to enter classrooms, the quality and form of school received – often in segregated schools – can act to powerfully compound exclusion from the mainstream and confirm pre-existing societal notions about disability” (GCE Report: Equal Right, Equal Opportunity: Education and Disability, 2013).
The right of persons with disabilities to education is guaranteed by international law, particularly Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has interpreted in its General Comment 4: Right to inclusive education.
With a view to realising this right without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity, States have to ensure an inclusive education system at all levels. This means that States are obligated to ensure that persons with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system on the basis of disability. The Committee on the Rights of the Child, in its General Comment 9 on the rights of children with disabilities, provides recommendations for the effective realisation of the right to education of children with disabilities. It confirms that inclusive education should be the goal of educating children with disabilities.
In addition to inclusive education, States have the obligation to provide the support required to facilitate the effective education of persons with disabilities, including providing reasonable accommodation, adapted equipment and individualised support measures as well as employing teachers who are qualified and trained to teach persons with disabilities within regular schools.
The right of persons with disabilities to education is also guaranteed at regional level. See below for further details.
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006 (Article 24; General Comments 2 and 4)
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966 (Articles 2 and 13; General Comments 5 and 13)
- Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989 (Articles 2 and 28; General Comments 1 and 9)
- UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education, 1960 (Articles 1, 3 and 4)
- The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education, 1994
- African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, 1981 (Articles 2 and 17)
- African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, 1990 (Article 11; Concept Note of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child on the Rights of Children with Disabilities: the duty to protect, respect, promote and fulfil)
- African Youth Charter, 2006 (Article 13)
- European Convention for the Protection of Human Right and Fundamental Freedoms, 1948 and its Optional Protocol 1, 1952 (Article 14 of the Convention and Article 2 of the Protocol)
- European Social Charter (revised), 1996 (Articles E, 10, 15 and 17)
- Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, 2000 (Article 14)
- Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights, Protocol of San Salvador, 1998 (Article 13 and 16)
- Arab Charter on Human Rights, 2004 (Articles 40 and 41)
- ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, 2011 (Article 31)
For more information International Instruments - the Right of Education of Persons with Disabilities