The Human Rights Commission welcomes the release of the Learning Support Action Plan 2019 – 2025 and new investment as a step in responding to the diverse needs of disabled young people.
Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero says the action plan is positive in that it promotes breaking down silos, collaboration and providing more resources and flexible supports. It also references the Disability Strategy and the Government’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“There’s recognition of all the work that advocates for disabled people such as the Human Rights Commission and IHC have done over the years. The success of the plan will rely on the meaningful involvement of disabled people in its implementation.”
Ms Tesoriero says the education reforms offer a vehicle for the essential improvements needed.
“The action plan identifies that the education system has failed disabled learners for decades.”
The June 2018 quarter Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) shows 43% of disabled school-leavers are not transitioned into training, jobs or other education.
Complaints to the Human Rights Commission about discrimination facing disabled students include:
- schools not wanting to enrol children at all or only for limited hours
- children that have been stood down, suspended, excluded or expelled from school either because of their disability or due to behaviour that is related to their disability
- disabled children’s ability to participate fully in wider school activities, such as school camps and other school trips
- schools not making the reasonable accommodations required by a disabled student
- disabled children being bullied at school
“An inclusive education approach celebrates diversity, emphasises individual strengths, and serves to highlight systemic shortcomings in accommodating diversity amongst individuals,” says Ms Tesoriero.
Ms Tesoriero says the failure to provide tailored and sufficient educational support for children and young people with learning needs can result in lifelong disadvantage, including barriers to entering the workforce and obtaining well paid work and disproportionately high rates of contact with the criminal justice system and incarceration.
“We look forward to the Government investing in addressing the range of significant systemic issues, also noted in the action plan, that have led to the education system not being inclusive, for example, workforce capacity and confidence, lack of services, a serious lack of data about educational outcomes and the low aspirations of others.”
Find the Easy Read and NZSL versions of the Action Plan here.