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Thematic study on the right of persons with disabilities to education

The right to education has been recognized as a fundamental human right by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and has been later codified by a number of legal instruments, the most recent being the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The right to education is as an example of the indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights due to its essential role in the full and effective realization of other human rights, both economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights. Such interrelation is clearly evident in the case of persons with disabilities, for instance, when ensuring that they obtain the same educational degrees in equal terms with others, as a prerequisite to their right to work or when guaranteeing that they can study in mainstream schools as a way of upholding their right to live in the community.

Article 24 of the CRPD reaffirms the right of persons with disabilities to education and requires States parties to realize this right without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunities through ensuring an inclusive education system at all levels of education and life-long learning. In particular, States parties shall ensure that:

  • persons with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system on the basis of disability and can access an inclusive, quality and free primary education and secondary education on an equal basis with others;
  • reasonable accommodation for the individual’s requirement is provided;
  • persons with disabilities receive the support required, including individualized support measures, to facilitate their effective education;
  • persons with disabilities are enabled to acquire life and social development skills to facilitate their full and equal participation in education and in their communities, including the learning of Braille and sign language;
  • professionals and staff who work at all levels of education are trained in disability awareness and the use of appropriate communication and educational techniques and schools employ teachers who are qualified in sign language and/or Braille;
  • persons with disabilities have access to general tertiary education, vocational training, adult education and lifelong learning without discrimination and on an equal basis with others.

In its resolution 22/3, the Human Rights Council has requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a study on the right of persons with disabilities to education, in consultation with States and other relevant stakeholders, including the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, regional organizations, the Special Rapporteur on Disabilities of the Commission for Social Development, civil society organizations, including organizations of persons with disabilities, and national human rights institutions.

To this end, OHCHR sent a note verbale to Member States and letters to the UNICEF, UNESCO, regional organizations, civil society organizations and organizations of persons with disabilities, the Special Rapporteur on Disability of the Commission for Social Development, and National Human Rights Institutions, seeking contributions to the study and requesting responses to a set of questions related to education of persons with disabilities. As a result, OHCHR received the following responses:

Submissions to the thematic study on the right of persons with disabilities to education