Call for Equality for Students with Disability
22 October 2013 at 10:48 am
Australian students with disabilities are still being denied the rights of an inclusive education enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, according to a Not for Profit White Paper to be launched this week.
Peak national body, Children with Disability Australia (CDA) is launching a landmark issues paper Inclusion in Education: towards equality for students with disability. The paper draws on over 170 research papers and discusses what is describes as a considerable body of evidence that demonstrates the benefits of inclusive education for all students.
The White Paper says children and young people in Australia have a right to an inclusive education however it is still common for students with disability to be denied this experience.
“For students with disability, there are entrenched barriers to receiving an inclusive education in Australia. The biggest barriers to inclusion in education relate to discriminatory attitudes. Disability is associated by many with low expectations, and notions of burden and charity, rather than real participation,” the Paper said.
“It is critical that education communities value diversity and quality education becomes a reality in the lives of students with disability,” the Executive Officer of Children with Disability Australia, Stephanie Gotlib said.
“Inclusive education is about a system that ensures that every student can actively participate in and contribute to all areas of their learning. In 2013 this should not be a revolutionary idea, but should be the norm in education in Australia.”
The author of the report, Dr Kathy Cologon said: “Discriminatory attitudes and practices pose serious barriers to inclusive education, and yet, despite these challenges, research evidence overwhelmingly supports inclusive education.
“In addition to the outcomes for social justice and sense of community and belonging, research provides evidence of positive outcomes of inclusive education for social, academic, cognitive and physical development in children who do and do not experience disability.”
“It is crucial that the findings of this report are key considerations as we enter into a critical time in education reform in Australia, a key focus being students with disability. This means re-examining attitudes and understanding of disability at the policy and school levels, including embedding inclusive education in training for teachers,” Gotlib said.
“In addition, it is absolutely critical to ensure the best outcomes for all students and that schools are appropriately resourced to enable the provision of inclusive education in the future.
“There is an entrenched culture of low expectations for students with disability in Australia. This impacts on the life opportunities, support and ultimately education outcomes for young people with disability. Inclusion in Education: towards equality for students with disability highlights the benefits for all when the rights of students with disability are not only recognised but become a practical every day reality.”