Paul Gibson –
However, as revealed in a recent Radio New Zealand interview, reports of a Papakura school’s resistance to enrolling a child because of their disability, clearly shows that the government has a way to go to achieve this objective.
That the Ministry of Education seemed to have no real justification for why this child has been excluded other than the school was not prepared, or indeed holds a real grasp on what it means for parents to have to find alternative schools, is quite alarming.
As a result, at this school and elsewhere, disabled children are missing out.
Disabled children have the same right to education at the local school as other children.
While the inclusion rates are going up, and many schools are doing a great job, a soon- to-be-released Education Review Office Report evidently shows that a quarter of our schools are a long way off welcoming all children in their community into their schools.
There has been some progress in getting schools prepared and able to accept all children. However, there is plenty of work to do and part of this work is to change the culture of accepting that it is okay for disabled children to be schooled elsewhere, when it is absolutely not okay.
I agree with CCS Disability Action that it is quite possible, and absolutely legal for the Ministry to look into a range of alternatives and tools to achieve the government’s inclusion target such as engaging a Commissioner in schools that are failing to meet standards.
Paul Gibson is Disability Rights Commissioner of New Zealand