Inclusive education and Human Rights

Inclusive education and Human Rights

61st Annual DPI/NGO Conference, September 04, 2008

Palais de l’UNESCO, Paris, France

Education is essential to equality and freedom of choice. It is the most important tool to building a tolerant world where citizens, whatever their abilities, respect each other; a world that holds a common respect for the human rights of people with disabilities and their ability to contribute.

Everywhere, in every situation or activity where the human rights of others are already respected, there is a need for the human rights of people with disabilities to be respected as well.  Playing or working with a person with a disability makes one consider the abilities of the person and the disability-related supports that person might need to access the place he/she wants to live, work or play in. It causes one to think about how to make the individual’s participation possible, to elaborate with the individual solutions that are respectful of his/her dignity.  It helps one to learn about other ways to do things.

For a person to live daily with mobility and/or communication restrictions is a challenge because what is a minor problem for a person without a disability can be a major, even traumatic issue for a person who has a disability. Living, working or playing with a person with a disability obliges one to be more attentive to the consequences of one’s gestures, pronunciation, the quality of one’s listening and the words one uses when speaking about or with persons with disabilities. Inclusive education, which must also be interactive education, engages pupils to share experiences and, in particular, acquire an understanding about differences among people and learn a unique lesson on the consequences of Human Rights violations.

Inclusive and interactive education is a wonderful way to teach Human Rights and an efficient pedagogic tool to make pupils aware of their Rights, for example their obligation to make education accessible to their comrades.

In this perspective of Human Rights education, interactive inclusion of people with disabilities is not seen only as an obligation but also as an opportunity to educate all the children on Human Rights and on the importance of their respect for everyone.

In addition, those who are still seen only as “unable” to be educated, or only through theirs “needs” relevant to their “severe or multiple disabilities” can be better seen through inclusive, interactive education as contributors and partners.

In that sense, people with disabilities can be considered as some of the best Human Rights educators … and inclusive education as “a real chance for school”.

Jean-Luc Simon

Chair of the Disabled Peoples' International European Region