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Human Rights Council holds annual discussion on the rights of persons with disabilities focusing on inclusive education

MIDDAY

19 March 2014

The Human Rights Council during its noon meeting held its annual interactive discussion on the rights of persons with disabilities, with a focus on inclusive education.

Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, in opening remarks said that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities represented an important shift in the approach to the rights of this group and established that persons with disabilities were holders of human rights on an equal basis with others. They could no longer be perceived as merely recipients of charity, goodwill or medical care. States may need to revise laws and policies to achieve inclusive education systems. The involvement of persons with disabilities in designing policy and building capacity would be an essential pillar of this transformation.

The panellists were: Ana Peláez Narváez, Member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; Gordon Porter, Senior Advisor of the Ministry of Education of New Brunswick, Canada; Philippe Testot-Ferry, Senior Education Advisor, UNICEF Regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States; and Maria Magdalena Orlando, Independent Expert, Argentina.

Ana Peláez Narváez, Member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, said that one of the major challenges was the realization of the right to education for all persons with disabilities, and guaranteeing that persons with disabilities were not excluded from mainstream education. Efforts should be stepped up to ensure the universal enrolment of children with disabilities in primary schools. Inclusive education models must be conceived at all levels of education, not only at primary levels, and adequate resources were needed for the implementation of inclusive national education policies.

Philippe Testot-Ferry, Senior Education Advisor, UNICEF Regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, said that a rights-based approach to inclusive quality education required a rigorous and systematic approach to removing the barriers that impeded children’s access to education. UNICEF proposed that the new Post-2015 Goal should be ‘End exclusion and ensure inclusive quality education and lifelong learning’. Realizing the rights of all children was both an investment for the future and a requirement for development. This was a crucial time when a difference could be made.

Gordon Porter, Senior Advisor of the Ministry of Education of New Brunswick, Canada, spoke about his experience of reforming the education system in New Brunswick from a ‘primitive’ system to a comprehensive one that focused on accommodating diversity in the classroom and mandated that teachers provided instruction to all children in their class. Inclusive education did not result in diminished learning for peers. The effort to make schools inclusive in New Brunswick was successful, and received much recognition in Canada, from other countries and by international organizations.

Maria Magdalena Orlando, Independent Expert, Argentina, said that an inclusive education was made up of several elements, including an ongoing process that could be measured and analysed on three dimensions: values, policies and practices. The new system should teach everyone to value diversity in actual fact. Specific characteristics of students should be considered without generating segregated programmes. Ms. Orlando expressed the wish that the post-2015 development agenda adopt a goal on inclusive education and quality learning through life.

In the discussion that followed, speakers believed that inclusive education was indispensable to achieve the realisation of the right to education for all, including persons with disabilities. It was recognised was that the main obstacles on the path to inclusive education arose from prejudice and misconceptions that demanded consistent and systematic actions from Governments, most importantly raising awareness among persons with disabilities, specialists and the general public. Concern was expressed that exclusion had affected the family community and political lives of persons with disabilities that were marginalised, isolated and often depended on others for their survival. The most marginalized children and youth with disabilities had to be borne in mind in the post-2015 framework.

Speaking in the discussion were Ethiopia on behalf of the African Group, European Union, Yemen on behalf of the Arab Group, Paraguay, Estonia, Austria, Montenegro, Norway, Russia, Turkey, Chile, Egypt, Ireland, Ecuador, Republic of Moldova, United States, Burkina Faso, Singapore, Pakistan, Viet Nam, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Cuba, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Algeria, New Zealand, Georgia, Croatia, Germany and Lithuania.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia took the floor, as did the following non-governmental organizations: European Disabilities Forum, Action Canada for Population and Development, International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions, China Disabled Persons Federation, and International Humanist and Ethical Union.

The Human Rights Council during its afternoon meeting will consider the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Saudi Arabia, Senegal and China.

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on a thematic study on the right of persons with disabilities to education (A/HRC/25/29).

The Council has before it a corrigendum to the report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on a thematic study on the right of persons with disabilities to education (A/HRC/25/29/Corr.1).

Opening Statement

FLAVIA PANSIERI, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, in opening remarks said that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities represented an important shift in the approach to the rights of this group and established that persons with disabilities were holders of human rights on an equal basis with others. They could no longer be perceived as merely recipients of charity, goodwill or medical care. States that were parties to the Convention were urged to take action to fully implement its provisions and this should be done with keen awareness of the linkages and overlaps between disability and other grounds for discrimination. To guide today’s discussion, the Office had prepared a thematic study on the topic and its importance to realising the universal right to education. This study was available in an easy-to-read format and therefore accessible to persons with intellectual impairments. The Council was encouraged to ensure this type of accessibility for more panels, not just those related to disability.

Education was a fundamental human right and contributed to freedom of choice and productive and prosperous lives, as well as facilitated inclusion in society in general. Inclusive education also promoted respect for diversity. Inclusive, quality education systems provided a powerful context to enable development of the capacities of every learner. Currently, even when they were permitted to enter mainstream educational facilities, persons with disabilities faced a number of barriers. Accessibility was a key challenge and current educational practice often failed to consider the diverse ways in which persons learned. New designs for learning were needed, with creative solutions that placed value on diversity while guaranteeing education of high quality. Good practices from around the world could assist in building better systems that accommodated all learners, including those with disabilities. Social attitudes may pose a very significant obstacle. Efforts were needed to raise awareness of the enriching properties of diversity. States may need to revise laws and policies to achieve inclusive education systems. The involvement of persons with disabilities in designing policy and building capacity would be an essential pillar of this transformation.

Statements by the Panellists

ANA PELAEZ NARVAEZ, Member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, said that one of the major challenges was the realization of the right to education for all persons with disabilities, as was guaranteeing that persons with disabilities were not excluded from mainstream education. Measures must be adopted to reduce illiteracy rates among children with disabilities; all children with disabilities, particularly those suffering from multiple discriminations, should not be excluded from universal access to education. Efforts should be stepped up to ensure the universal enrolment of children with disabilities in primary schools. Inclusive education models must be conceived at all levels of education, not only at primary levels. Adequate resources were needed for the implementation of inclusive national education policies. Parents needed to be included in all decisions concerning the education of their children. Teachers and pedagogical staff must be of high calibre and ensure learning of students with disabilities.

PHILIPPE TESTOT-FERRY, Senior Education Advisor, Europe and Central Asia, UNICEF, said since the ratification by many States of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, UNICEF’s work to promote the rights of children with and without disabilities to an education had gained momentum. A rights-based approach to inclusive quality education required a rigorous and systematic approach to removing the barriers that impeded children’s access to education. This approach must provide a relevant curriculum delivered through a child-centred pedagogy in a safe environment in which children’s physical integrity was respected and their voices heard and taken seriously. Mr. Testot-Ferry spoke about the many benefits of a quality inclusive education, including financial, saying that special segregated schools were an added expense for many struggling education systems. Children with disabilities enjoyed many benefits from inclusive environments; they learned appropriate academic, social and behavioural skills from their peers and were often able to rise to higher expectations with a stronger chance of being included in future inclusive environments. For children without disabilities, the benefits of attending schools that reflected human diversity in all its forms included being more likely to appreciate and accept all individual differences and develop a respect which prepared them to live in, and strive for, a truly inclusive society. UNICEF proposed that the new Post-2015 Goal should be ‘End exclusion and ensure inclusive quality education and lifelong learning’. Realizing the rights of all children was both an investment for the future and a requirement for development. This was a crucial time when a difference could be made.

GORDON PORTER, Senior Advisor, Inclusive Education, Ministry of Education and Eary Childhood Development in the Province of New Brunswick, Canada, spoke about his experience of reforming the education system in New Brunswick from a ‘primitive’ system to a comprehensive one that focused on accommodating diversity in the classroom and mandated that teachers provided instruction to all children in their class, including those with disabilities and significant intellectual and multiple impairments, enforced by legislation passed in 1986 and an array of measures including significant efforts to re-train and re-focus the instructional skills of existing teachers. Learning was not a ‘zero sum’ affair. Inclusive education did not result in diminished learning for peers. In fact, it raised academic standards for all, developed peer relations that were conducive to citizenship in a diverse and democratic society and enhanced social cohesion in the community. The effort to make schools inclusive in New Brunswick was successful, and received much recognition in Canada, from other countries and by international organizations. Making schools inclusive could be a transformational process if done effectively with principled leadership operating from a human rights base. Regarding resources, Mr. Porter said if children were sent away to segregated schools then their public funding went with them but if the students were kept in mainstream schools then the money could also be kept and invested in building inclusive schools. By strengthening inclusion they could strengthen schools, he concluded.

MARIA MAGDALENA ORLANDO, Independent Expert, Argentina, commended the subject that gave rise to this meeting as the right to education empowered people and allowed for the enjoyment of other rights. They were talking about creating and maintaining a fairer and more equitable society. An inclusive education was made up of several elements, including an ongoing process that could be measured and analysed on three dimensions that were values, policies and practices. There should also be an identification of existing barriers and participation in their reduction. Major challenges were being faced but they could be taken up. The new system should teach everyone to value diversity in actual fact. Specific characteristics of students should be considered without generating segregated programmes. Civil society organizations, including those representing persons with disabilities, had to work together in all political impact areas. In the common State management school of Buenos Aires, there was a resolution that allowed for a support scheme for certain students according to their diagnosis. This was changed and now it was possible to have a support structure for all persons with disabilities based on their requirements. The wish was expressed that the post-2015 development agenda adopt a goal on inclusive education and quality learning through life.

Discussion

Estonia agreed that the aim of achieving inclusive education should be seen as a process and that the transformation of schools to be inclusive should also be seen as a process. Also recognised was that main obstacles on this path arose from prejudice and misconceptions that demanded consistent and systematic actions from Governments, most importantly raising awareness among persons with disabilities, specialists and the general public. Ethiopia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that it had a vision of an integrated and prosperous Africa driven by its people to take its rightful place in the global community. The African Group was concerned that exclusion had affected the family community and the lives of persons with disabilities that were marginalised, isolated and often depended on others for their survival.

European Union believed that today’s discussion would help towards a better understanding of all the elements of inclusive education, which was indispensable to achieve the realisation of the right to education for all, including persons with disabilities. By emphasising the participation of learners and respect for human diversity, inclusive education provided a sound platform for combating exclusion and discrimination. Yemen, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that the subject of the discussion was pressing. The Arab Charter on Human Rights had dedicated a significant proportion of its text to upholding the rights of persons with disabilities and called for the need to provide educational services to persons with disabilities. It was regretted that national and international efforts to implement this right were still proving insufficient.

Paraguay said that worldwide statistics showed that persons with disabilities were encountering a large number of obstacles. Paraguay had a Persons with Disabilities Education Directorate and was studying the law on inclusive education, aimed at coming up with corresponding action to create an inclusive education model. Hospital classrooms had been established in one of its hospitals. Austria said that persons with disabilities faced various forms of discrimination in educational settings. In Austria, the recently adopted National Action Plan for persons with disabilities provided the main framework for its disability policy in the upcoming years. Equal participation in education was fundamental. Given the persistence of negative attitudes towards persons with disabilities, how could States better ensure their inclusion in the education system?

Montenegro believed that inclusive education represented the most appropriate modality for States to guarantee universality and non-discrimination in education. The Government had adopted a new Strategy for Inclusive Education as an essential part of its reform process in order to ensure quality and accessible education for children, students and adults with disabilities and other difficulties. The post-2015 development agenda should be formulated to a human rights-based approach.

Norway said the denial of the right to education for children with disabilities arose not only from lack of access but was also due to preconceptions. They needed to keep in mind the most marginalized children and youth with disabilities in the post-2015 framework. There was a strong need to improve data collection on persons with disabilities and make it gender-disaggregated. Russia said that as part of its signature of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, it would soon present its initial report to the Committee. Domestically, several pieces of new legislation had been adopted in line with the Convention and Russia was paying special attention to the issue of inclusive education. Additionally, 14,000 jobs were to be created every year for persons with disabilities.

Turkey said it had several special educational establishments for pupils with disabilities as well as places in mainstream schools. More than 250,000 students with special needs had attended school in 2005, a 90 per cent increase. Disability could be overcome by education. Turkey briefed the Council on its “Education Enables” campaign. Chile said since its ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, it had been working towards the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in society. Persons with disabilities represented 12.9 per cent or two million people of the population. Chile was paying special attention in developing a fully inclusive educational system from nursery to higher levels.

Egypt said persons with disabilities represented a wealth of talent and rich potential that needed to be invested in, and should not be seen as a burden to be relieved. Fourteen years after the Cairo Regional Conference for Education for All, many challenges persisted. Egypt’s amended Child Rights Law guaranteed the integration of children with disabilities into general schools. Human Rights Commission of Malaysia commended efforts to enhance access to education for persons with hearing or visual impairments in Malaysia, but said less attention was given to people with learning disabilities such as Downs Syndrome, autism and dyslexia, mainly due to a lack of awareness. A forthcoming study was anticipated to help in awareness raising.

European Disability Forum said despite the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, many persons with disabilities around the world were excluded from all levels of education, a discrimination compounded by a serious lack of data which would allow fair policy making at various levels. The Forum made several recommendations for countries to end the exclusion of persons with disabilities.
Action Canada for Population and Development, speaking on behalf of the Sexual Rights Initiative, said persons with disabilities were discriminated against due to a lack of access to comprehensive sexuality and family planning education, as affirmed by the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education and the General Assembly. States and United Nations agencies were urged to incorporate comprehensive, non-judgemental and scientifically accurate sex education to all persons with disabilities.

ANA PELAEZ NARVAEZ, Member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, said that in light of the comments made to States parties that the Committee on Persons with Disabilities had worked with, the Committee planned to develop in the near future a General Comment on the interpretation of Article 24 of the Convention on Persons with Disabilities.

GORDON PORTER, Senior Advisor, Inclusive Education, Ministry of Education and Early Childhood Development in the Province of New Brunswick, Canada, said that the biggest obstacle to achieving inclusive education was the sense that it was really something worth doing in regular schools. There was a significant lack of leadership at all levels and a lot of understanding was needed of what inclusive education could do. On negative attitudes, like anything else, his experience was that you needed to get started and then children would accommodate to difference very freely, if given the opportunity. In any transitional plan, enthusiastic people had to be found that wanted to set up a plan for inclusive education in the school and extend the experience to a larger constellation of schools and communities.

MARIA MAGDALENA ORLANDO, Independent Expert, Argentina, regarding the need for aligning education for children with disabilities with legislation, said that these should not be treated as separate areas. Rather, this should be dealt with as an effort to ensure that education complied with the standards set up by the Covenants and other relevant human rights treaties, taking the needs of all students into consideration.

PHILIPPE TESTOT-FERRY, Senior Education Advisor, UNICEF Regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, said that the absence of data constituted one of the most important barriers to including all children with disabilities. Most educational and monitoring systems had not been designed to address children with disabilities. It was necessary, for example, to include and to make visible not only those children who dropped out but also those who had been excluded from the education system altogether. All relevant government bodies should work together on the basis of shared data to fully address the needs of children with disabilities. Furthermore, the focus should be on the talent and abilities of children with disabilities, rather than on the disabilities. Mr. Testot-Ferry also referred to United Nations Children’s Fund initiative, “All Equal, All Different”, to include children with disabilities in schools.

Ireland welcomed the conclusion that inclusion was essential to achieving universal coverage of the right to education. Ireland’s National Disability Strategy included a commitment to providing every person access to appropriate education and training, while the Government was committed to providing more resources to disability programmes. Portugal asked panellists how Governments could ensure their educational systems provided good quality education to all students; it also asked how relevant stakeholders, particularly representative organizations for persons with disabilities, could be involved in developing inclusive education systems.

Italy said this discussion was one of the most crucial held by the Council. Italy spoke about its plan of action for persons with disabilities and its many provisions and programmes related to education. Italy asked the panellists what crucial steps Sates should take to achieve quality inclusive education systems? Argentina said it was working on a cross-cutting approach to ensure full inclusion for persons with disabilities in all spheres of life, including education. Students with disabilities should be made to feel respected and valued in schools as all of society was enriched when it learned to value diversity.

Qatar said it had adopted special programmes to ensure that persons with disabilities could go to school. It was especially seeking to connect students with disabilities to technological tools, including electronic books in English and Arabic, and to reach out to children with disabilities living in rural areas. Australia spoke about its legislation which ensured students with disabilities were given equal opportunity to enrol in mainstream education, and required educational facilities to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities, including modifying infrastructure to make facilities fully accessible. Could the panellists recommend measures to ensure that tertiary and adult education systems were inclusive?

Ecuador agreed that sustained efforts to bring about the effective promotion of the right of persons with disabilities to inclusive education were needed. Inclusive education went beyond specialised services, it was essential to integrate all children so that they could discover a world of diversity. Inclusive education entailed a cultural change and the elimination of barriers preventing integration. Ecuador was implementing a number of measures, including of pedagogical policies, integrating adolescents and children in inclusive education, and eliminating barriers. Republic of Moldova said that inclusive education systems could provide both quality of education and social development for persons with disabilities. Inclusive education laws and strategies should be reinforced by a holistic and comprehensive approach in the family, school and society. International cooperation had contributed to developing inclusive education systems. The Republic of Moldova inquired about mechanisms to address barriers arising from prejudice and misconceptions.

United States said that education was a vector for human development and a guarantee for freedom. Laws, systems, and processes were important to ensure that individuals with disabilities had equal access and were not discriminated against in educational opportunities. The evaluation of specific needs and creating enabling environments were needed. United States’ federal laws extended over the provision of education to children with disabilities. Burkina Faso said that education was indeed very important for the full development of individuals and countries. Burkina Faso recognised the place of persons with disabilities in society and efforts had been made to include all persons in the country’s development, which was reflected in efforts towards education. The Government was intending to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and would make efforts towards its implementation.

Singapore said that no Singaporean child was excluded from education on the basis of disability and there were no limitations for their registration into mainstream schools and, where appropriate, students with disabilities were integrated into regular classes; special education schools were also provided with additional funds to support students with higher needs. Pakistan said that inclusive education was essential to achieving the universality of the right to education, including for persons with disabilities, and could provide both quality of education and social development for persons with disabilities. Pakistan had ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and a 2 per cent quota had been established in all academic institutions in the country. A national policy for persons with disabilities had been formulated in 2002 and it recognised a shift from an exclusive into an inclusive education system throughout the country, which would provide the opportunity of achieving education for all.

International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions said that only inclusive education could provide quality education and social inclusion for persons with disabilities, and could contribute to more inclusive societies. China Disabled Persons Federation said that the Government was providing increased support to the education of persons with disabilities, including in the underdeveloped areas of the country, and called for an increase in the percentage of students with disabilities who benefitted from inclusive education. International Humanist and Ethical Union said that the right to education was key to progress and development and provided a platform for countering discrimination and stigmatisation. Part of the solution of breaking barriers was to give an opportunity to children to educate one another in their daily lives.

Viet Nam urged the international community to further land support to persons with disabilities, including in conflict and post-conflict areas. Saudi Arabia said it had adopted a series of legislation to strengthen the implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities, including in education and health, and had extended the provision of education services from pre-school to university. Poland said that the full participation of persons with disabilities in public and political life could happen only if persons with disabilities were provided with an opportunity to learn and gain knowledge. Inclusive education also built social and human capital whereby the society could profit from stronger ties with its impaired members.

Kuwait said it was a pioneer country in terms of protecting the rights of persons with specific needs and had a comprehensive policy, working with civil society, to ensure health and educational services for persons with disabilities. Kuwait approved of the inclusive approach to education, starting from primary level and including religious schools. United Arab Emirates said the Convention on the Rights of the Child focused on the right to education of all, and it tried to establish an inclusive educational system to that end. The Strategic Plan 2014 to 2015 assisted persons with disabilities in special centres. States should promote a favourable psychological climate for persons with disabilities. Morocco highlighted the recent conference of the World Intellectual Property Organization which adopted an agreement on public books to help access of visually impaired people to a wide range of literature. Morocco spoke about its legislation to help promote the rights of persons with disabilities.

Cuba said it attached special importance to persons with disabilities and had established 400 schools which ran both general and specialized programmes for persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities in Cuba had full access to education, sport, culture, health, employment and social security, as they all had universal coverage. Cuba was a striking example of best practice in that area. Costa Rica said myths and ignorance about persons with disabilities undermined their access to rights. Costa Rica asked panellists for their opinions on tackling that problem. Inclusive education was a priority for Costa Rica which faced major challenges and was currently fleshing out its National Disability Policy.

Ethiopia said it was gravely concerned about discrimination against persons with disabilities and environmental factors which prevented their education. Ethiopia was working to establish an inclusive education programme, including the necessary support services, together with progressive, inclusive and participatory economic development. Algeria congratulated the High Commissioner for holding this panel. The right to education was a universal and fundamental right and international instruments reaffirmed the right of persons with disabilities to inclusive education, which included addressing practices and culture in schools, as well as eliminating obstacles, and ensuring equality of opportunity. Algeria asked the panellist to elaborate on specific ways to include the right to education, in particular for persons with disabilities, in the development agenda.

New Zealand said it was actively taking steps to ensure access to inclusive education and the Government had a vision to achieve a fully inclusive education system by the end of 2014. The delegation asked panellists to elaborate on different ways to make the economic as well as the rights-based case for inclusive education, and was interested to hear the United Nations Children’s Fund proposals to address inclusive education as part of the post-2015 development agenda

Concluding Remarks

ANA PELAEZ NARVAEZ, Member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, believed that guaranteeing genuine participation of persons with disabilities in the implementation of article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which entailed active participation by all States of policy design and implementation processes, could serve as a key source of support. Persons with disabilities should have the opportunity to serve as decision-makers, legislators, as well as in the practical implementation of measures. Some sectors of the large population of persons with disabilities were not considered and every single category of disability should be included and opportunities should be provided to all of them to participate and contribute in the fulfilment of the Convention’s provisions. International cooperation could provide the key to implement some noteworthy solutions, including through public-private partnerships and the implementation of new technologies to avoid the emergence of new barriers. It was important to take to heart how essential gender issues in the area of disabilities were, including in policies towards inclusive education which in some instances continued to discriminate against girls.

PHILIPPE TESTOT-FERRY, Senior Education Advisor, United Nations Children’s Fund Regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, drew attention to UNICEF’s flagship publication the State of the World’s Children Report, which in 2013 had focused on children with disabilities. It had encouraged all States to dismantle barriers to inclusion and encouraged participation in all walks of life; barriers needed to be removed from a very early age, starting with pre-school. In terms of financing inclusive education, Mr. Testot-Ferry said that there were experiences in reforming the per-capita funding formulas that governments should explore. It was important for States to ensure that the post-2015 education goals were inclusive of all children, and in particular those with disabilities.

GORDON PORTER, Senior Advisor, Inclusive Education, Ministry of Education and Early Childhood Development in the Province of New Brunswick, Canada, in concluding remarks, said he’d been in this discussion for 30 years or more and it would not have been possible three decades ago – it was a sign of progress that this discussion was taking place among nations at this level at the United Nations. Regarding practical steps, Mr. Porter said they had to use the public schools that already existed in all communities, and follow the concept of national proportion, meaning they should not try to gather all children of one type into one particular place. There were several myths to overcome: first that children with disabilities needed clinical practice more than pedagogical practice. Good teachers in public schools could serve the needs of 95 per cent of pupils, with the remainder provided by support from experts. Second, the myth that experts were essential in an inclusive system: inclusive education depended on the skill of teachers supplemented by advice from experts and not the other way around. Finally, Mr. Porter spoke about money, saying that Canada may be one of the world’s prosperous countries but in New Brunswick there was no way both inclusive and special segregated schools could be financially supported at the same time. States that thought they had enough money to do both systems at the same time certainly had more resources than Canada.

MARIA MAGDALENA ORLANDO, Independent Expert, Argentina, addressing a question concerning the role of civil society, said that the Convention should be used as a guide and there had to be a partnership between civil society and States. Education should be a life-long enterprise. Concerning positive accommodation, Ms. Orlando stressed that it was a temporary measure but that it did not substitute the need for inclusive education, calling on States to fully take into heart the report of the Office of the High Commissioner.

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For use of the information media; not an official record