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25 May 2020 - The unfortunate handling of the return of disabled children to schools

May 25, 2020

The unfortunate handling of the return of disabled children to schools

With the gradual lifting of pandemic measures and the announcement of the return of children to their schools, it was found that children and adolescents with disabilities do not return with their peers. In addition to the frustration caused by the event itself to the students and their families, the way in which this group of citizens has been handled by the Ministry of Education is also of particular concern.

Children and adolescents with disabilities have a right to education. Excluding them constitutes discrimination and promotes inequalities which, in the long term, have a negative impact on their psychology, in the way they perceive themselves as part of the wider whole and perpetuate the difficulties they face as equal members of society.

The State, by failing to show the necessary sensitivity, integrates these children into vulnerable groups of the population, creating to the public the false impression that disability equals illness.  This underlines the need for further actions with regard to the sincere acceptance of children and adolescents with disabilities in schools.  In addition to the existing programme to improve the conditions of attendance of this group, which is already being implemented by the Ministry of Education, our State must overcome the charitable approach to its policy so far and turn it into a rightful one. Only then will the obligations of the State be clarified and will be able to strengthen the autonomy of the individual. The State must seek the integration of the disabled and not their institutionalization and, above all, it must correct the environment it creates and not the "weakness" of the individual. 

The intensification of efforts to establish a National Action Plan promoting Multiculturalism and Acceptance of Diversity, observed in recent months, is a positive step of the State in the right direction, as it is expected to be able to further strengthen the actions of the 2nd National Disability Action Plan 2018 - 2020 and the 1st National Disability Strategy 2018 – 2028. The involvement of the various stakeholders has already begun with consultations between Ministries and State Agencies, with the aim of recording their existing actions in this area. At the same time, meetings have been opened with disabled groups to record their positions.