The aim of the present general comment is to clarify the obligations of States parties regarding non-discrimination and equality as enshrined in article 5 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Section K of the general comment refers to the right to education:
- The failure of some States parties to provide students with disabilities, including students with visible and invisible disabilities and those who experience multiple discrimination, with equal access to mainstream school with inclusive and quality education is discriminatory, contrary to the objectives of the Convention, and in direct contravention of Articles 5 and 24. Article 5 (1) interacts with Article 24 of the Convention and requires States parties to remove all types of discriminatory barriers, including legal and social barriers, to inclusive education.
- Segregated models of education, which exclude students with disabilities from mainstream and inclusive education on the basis of disability, contravene articles 5 (2) and 24 (1) (a) of the Convention. Article 5 (3) requires States parties to take all appropriate steps to ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided. That right is strengthened for persons with disabilities in article 24 (2) (b), which requires States parties to ensure an inclusive education for persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live. That goal can be achieved by providing reasonable accommodation of an individual’s requirement, in accordance with article 24 (2) (c), and developing new and inclusive settings according to universal design. Standardized assessment systems, including entry examinations, that directly or indirectly exclude students with disabilities are discriminatory and in contravention of articles 5 and 24. States parties’ obligations extend beyond the school. States parties must ensure accessible school transportation is provided to all students with disabilities where transportation options are limited due to social or economic barriers.
- To ensure equality and non-discrimination for deaf children in educational settings, they must be provided with sign language learning environments with deaf peers and deaf adult role models. The lack of proficiency in sign language skills of teachers of deaf children and inaccessible school environments exclude deaf children and are thus considered discriminatory. The Committee calls upon States parties to be guided by its general comment No. 4 (2016) on the right to inclusive education when carrying out measures to fulfil their obligations under articles 5 and 24.
The General Comment is available here.
General comment No. 20: Non-discrimination in economic, social and cultural rights (art. 2, para. 2, of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)