State schools still not on target to give all children access

State schools still not on target to give all children access

February 23, 2015

‘Success for All – Every School, Every Child' is the government’s vision and work programme to achieve a fully inclusive education system. However, as revealed in a Radio New Zealand interview today, reports of a Papakura school’s resistance to enrolling a child because of their disability, clearly shows that the government has a way to go to achieve this, says Disability Commissioner Paul Gibson.

“That the Ministry of Education seemed to have no real justification for why this child has been excluded other than the school wasn’t prepared, or indeed holds a real grasp on what it means for parents to have to find alternative schools, is quite alarming,” Mr Gibson said, “as a result, at this school and elsewhere, disabled children are missing out.”

“Disabled children have the same right to education at the local school as other children and while the inclusion rates are going up, and many schools are doing a great job, a soon to be released Education Review Office report evidently shows that a quarter of our schools are a long way off welcoming all children in their community into their schools,” he said.

“While there has been some progress in getting schools prepared and able to accept all children, there is plenty of work to do and part of this work is to change the culture of accepting that it is okay for disabled children to be schooled elsewhere, when it is absolutely not okay.

“I agree with CCS Disability Action that it is quite possible, and entirely legal, for the Ministry to look into a range of alternatives and tools to achieve the government’s inclusion target such as engaging a Commissioner in schools that are failing to meet standards,” Mr Gibson said.

Dip Deeper:

Read the Disabled Children's Right to Education report here.

Disability Rights Commisioner Paul Gibson

Paul Gibson took up his position as Commissioner with responsibilities for disability issues on 26 September 2011, the day New Zealand ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008.

Mr Gibson is a former president of the Disabled People’s Assembly and was involved in the work of international NGOs advocating for the United Nations to adopt a Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Mr Gibson is partially blind and uses Braille and assistive technology.

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