3.1 General Principles on Special Needs in Education

Hi, welcome to the Education Law Virtual Classroom. In this lecture, we will deal with students with special needs in education
and with the general principles on inclusive education. Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
guarantees to every child the right to an education. It stipulates the right of the child
to an education on the basis of equal opportunity. Article 24(1) obliges the State Parties to recognize the right
of persons with disabilities to education without discrimination and to elaborate an inclusive educational system
on the basis of equal opportunity at all levels. The right to inclusive education integrates both the right to an education
and the right of non-discrimination and equal treatment. It refers to:
creating an accessible environment adapting methods of teaching and curriculum providing special measures of support which
address special educational needs of students. An accessible environment in education refers to: material facilities such as school buildings, means of information and communication such as Braille as well as non-material issues such as providing psychological support. ‘Universal design’ means the design of products, environments,
programs and services to be accessible to all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need
for adaptation or specialized design. ‘Reasonable accommodation’ means necessary
and appropriate modification and adjustments not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden,
where needed in a particular case to ensure persons with disabilities are able to enjoy or
perform exercises on an equal basis with others. Key players in elaborating special measures of support in schools are: parents teachers school authorities communities curriculum planners training institutes Inclusion of students with disabilities in the real world
is affected by attitudes and values. Therefore it is important that teachers are aware
of their own understanding of inclusive education and that they are trained in questioning their own attitudes and values
which can be done by answering the following questions: is the concept of inclusive education well known
and accepted in the classroom are the parents of a child with disabilities 
actively involved in the education of their child did the school launch awareness programs
to support inclusive education is the local community and the private sector
encouraged to support inclusive education is inclusive education seen as an important factor
for economic and social development does the school provide training to acquire the competencies
for inclusive education in special schools and in mainstream schools At school level, the following questions in connection
with the curriculum should be analysed and evaluated: are the principles of non-discrimination, appreciation of 
diversity and tolerance being fostered through the curriculum are human rights and children’s rights part of the curriculum is the curriculum inclusive of all children is the content of the curriculum relevant
to the needs and future of children and youth are the programs, learning materials and teaching methods
well adapted and relevant to the lives of youth and adults does the curriculum allow for variation in working methods is the curriculum sensitive to gender,
cultural identity and language background does the curriculum reflect visions and goals
of wider development in the country. At the school level, the following questions in connection
with the educational staff should be analysed and evaluated: are there enough trained teachers
deployed appropriately throughout the country is the teaching inclusive of all children,
protective, gender responsive and does it encourage the participation
of the learners themselves is the professional development and motivation of teachers enhanced
by providing incentives and ongoing professional development are teaching methods interactive are teaching methods adapted to different age groups
(children, teens and adults) are teachers encouraged to work in teams do materials cater to the needs of all learners with learning difficulties
(visually impaired, hearing impaired, etc.) are teachers encouraged to cooperate with parents and civil society. At the school level, the following issues in connection with policy and
administrative measures should be analysed and evaluated: partnership with parents community involvement the establishment of an information and research centre extracurricular activities policy on inclusive education and available resources. Justiciability of the right to inclusive education refers to
the ability of a right to be protected in case of violation of this right by means of bringing the case for consideration before the court or body
authorized to make enforceable decisions on a just basis. These principles will now be illustrated in case law examples
on students with special needs in education In the case Autism Europe v. France, the European Committee of Social Rights in 2003
ruled that children with special needs caused by autism spectrum disorders should not be deprived of measures of support
within the mainstream educational system. Deprivation of one group of children with special needs
compared to other children with disabilities constitutes a violation of the provisions of the European Social Charter
and infringes on the principles of equality and non-discrimination. A Warsaw court ruled that ‘inappropriate and 
unclear criteria of admission to an inclusive school leads to a violation of the rights of the child with special needs’. A Tirana court ruled that ‘admission of children with special needs
and intellectual disabilities in a regular primary school and in an ordinary school environment
without reasonable accommodation, i.e. without provision of an individual education plan
and an assistant teacher or an auxiliary teacher, constitutes a violation of the right to receive quality education
appropriate for the individual special needs of the child’. A court in Minsk in the Republic of Belarus ruled that ‘refusal of admission
of the child with Down syndrome to a regular school constitutes a violation of the right of the child to inclusive education in accordance with Article 24 of the Convention
on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’. A Russian court ruled that ‘refusal of admission to a school
on the grounds of mental disability of pupils constitutes a violation of the right of access to education
and the right of access to school without discrimination.’ A Belgian court ruled that ‘refusal to assign an assistant teacher
trained in the use of sign languages to a deaf student in mainstream education, constituted a refusal of reasonable
accommodation measures and thus, according to the applicable equality
legislation, a discrimination’.

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