Education For All FORUM Press Release on Education Amendment Bill
9 February 2017
Enforce the right to education for every child – Education for All
The Education for All Forum has called on government to legislate for the right for every child and young person to an inclusive education in their submission to Parliament on Education Act changes.
“While the government talk about our Special Education Policy aiming to achieve “a world class inclusive education system”, the education amendment bill is not doing enough to turn that into a reality for children and young people with disabilities and their families in their early childhood and compulsory education settings, “said spokesperson Dr Bernadette McCarthy.
“Legislating for an enforceable right to inclusive education is the very least the government should be doing if they are going to start taking our obligations to the well-being and rights of children and young people with disabilities seriously. The current situation is a shamble and a disgrace” says McCarthy.
“The government is failing to invest in inclusive education and support the rights of disabled New Zealanders to education. The result is teachers locking vulnerable children in rooms, early childhood centres and schools refusing to enrol local children with disabilities, families paying to provide or top up support staff for their children, and children missing out on school camps, sporting and other activities”
“There is almost no professional development for teachers on inclusive approaches to education available, and most teacher education programmes lack inclusive education content and expertise. These are all symptoms of systemic failure, neglect and blame shifting. Combine this with centres and schools being under-resourced and supported, facing ever increasing demands on their funding and workloads and the hectic pace of government led changes to the education sector. It’s a nightmare.
New Zealand is falling behind internationally, with United Nations committees on the Rights of the Child and the Rights of Persons With Disability criticiing the New Zealand government for their continuing lack of action and progress towards inclusive education.
EFA told the committee that the Government has the opportunity right now to do something positive and invest in the education and success of all children, including those with disabilities.
Including the right to an inclusive education in the Act will reinforce the message that every child and young person is of equal value and has the right to be included, learn and succeed alongside their siblings and friends in their local communities. The next step is for the government to work in proper partnership with the disability, family, children, youth, human rights and education sectors to make this commitment comprehensive and real.
Education For All (EFA) is a collaboration of disabled persons organisations, family and inclusive education organisations, teachers, and school principals, leaders, researchers and academics in inclusive education, and people from the employment and human rights sector committed to ensuring all students with disabilities are well educated in an inclusive education system.