Inclusive education: a human right?

Illustration by Alex Leonard for the Children & Young People's Commissioner Scotland based on Article 1 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child showing a group of children holding up a sign that reads "All children have rights"

The most fundamental of rights is the right to possess rights (Freeman). 

Human rights gained international focus following the second World War. A state of ‘rightlessness’ had been created for those with ‘undesirable’ characteristics (Hannah Arendt wrote about this in her book “The Origins of Totalitarianism”). Disabled people were considered useless and their rights were removed. In the shadow of this period, a lot of progress has been made to articulate and defend the rights of every person. International treaties, conventions, and committees, national laws, and specialist courts have all been developed to work towards a world where each person’s dignity and value is assured.

Children, due to their natural vulnerability, have more rights which the state should protect. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is divided into ideas which promote the protection, the provision and the participation rights of children. In concept at least, children have all the rights of adults and additionally the provisions of the UNCRC. All children have the right to an education, to safety (including at school), and to self-expression. All children should have their best interests considered when decisions are made concerning them.

Disabled children are among ‘all children’. They do not have fundamentally different rights and needs to their non-disabled peers. 

Twenty years after the UNCRC, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was published, in recognition of a persistently unequal society for disabled people. Disabled children now have the right to be educated in an inclusive education system. Disabled adults too have the right to access the lifelong learning and professional development of their non-disabled peers.

The wording is clear. Segregation based on impairment or disability is not in the best interest of anyone. 

Published by a24scotland

A24 is a new organisation aiming to support, promote and secure inclusive education for all children and young people in Scotland as set out in Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. A24 are a group of parents of disabled children, self-advocates, researchers, academics, and practitioners.

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