The UN and the human right to inclusive education
What is Article 24?
The UN Convention on The Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) provides an internationally recognised standard for Disabled people’s human rights. Governments that sign up to and ratify the UNCRPD must work to this standard, which safeguards the human rights of all disabled people.
The UNCRPD includes Article 24: A Right to Inclusive Education. This guarantees all Disabled pupils and students a right to participate in all forms of mainstream education with appropriate support.
UK refusal to implement Article 24 fully
When the UK government ratified the UNCRPD in June 2009 it placed restrictions on its obligations. Two of those relate to Article 24. The first changes the UK’s definition of a ‘general education system’ to include segregated education:
“The United Kingdom Government is committed to continuing to develop an inclusive system where parents of disabled children have increasing access to mainstream schools and staff, which have the capacity to meet the needs of disabled children. The General Education System in the United Kingdom includes mainstream, and special schools, which the UK Government understands is allowed under the Convention.” (Interpretative Declaration on Education – Convention Article 24 Clause 2 (a) and (b))
The second reserves the UK’s right to send disabled children to special schools outside their local area:
“The United Kingdom reserves the right for disabled children to be educated outside their local community where more appropriate education provision is available elsewhere. Nevertheless, parents of disabled children have the same opportunity as other parents to state a preference for the school at which they wish their child to be educated.” (Reservation: Education – Convention Article 24 Clause 2 (a) and 2 (b))
The UK is one of only two countries in the world to place restrictions on Article 24 (the other being Mauritius). ALLFIE believes this is completely unacceptable and we are working to get these restrictions overturned.
In September 2016 the UN Disability Committee published a General Comment on Article 24 setting out how governments can move towards greater inclusion. Again the UK has ignored this and remains out of step with the rest of the world.
Scrutiny by the UN Disability Committee
In August 2017 the UN Disability Committee scrutinised the UK government’s implementation of the UNCRPD . They have now published their concluding observations which highlight the UK’s failings across all the convention articles, including Article 24.
Current campaign work
- ALLFIE continues, with others, to press the government to implement Article 24 fully as written in the convention and meet its obligation to support and develop the capacity of all mainstream education providers to include all disabled learners.
- ALLFIE is also working with a wider coalition of Disabled people’s organisations, the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance, to follow up on the recommendations in the committee’s concluding observations.
- Keep an eye on our news and briefings pages for updates.
What you can do
- Please use ALLFIE’s resources to talk to people about how important the UNCRPD and Article 24 are as the framework for change.
- Contact your local school/college and offer to come and talk to students about the UNCRPD. ALLFIE can help you with the presentation.
- Write to your MP to ask them to support the UN Disability Committee recommendations.
What ALLFIE has achieved
- ALLFIE’s participation in the UNCRPD discussions secured a clear right to inclusive education under Article 24 for all disabled pupils and students. Since then more than 175 countries have signed and ratified the UN Convention in full.
- ALLFIE’s submission to the UN Disability Committee strengthened the text of the recently published General Comment on Article 24.
- ALLFIE successfully presented detailed evidence to the UN Disability Committee when it scrutinised the UK government in August 2017. The committee’s concluding observations have highlighted the UK’s failure to implement all the convention articles, particularly Article 24.
- With ALLFIE being a member of the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance, Article 24 and Inclusive Education will remain one of the top priorities for the Disabled People’s Movement.