UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Article 24
A global commitment to Inclusive Education, as a right, for all Disabled learners
The UN Convention on The Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) provides an internationally recognised standard for disabled people's human rights in one global framework. Those Governments that sign up to and ratify the UNCRPD are required to promote and uphold these standards which safeguard the human rights of ALL disabled people.
Former Minister for Disabled People Anne McGuire signing the UNCRPD on behalf of the UK Government in 2007
Article 24: A Right to Inclusive Education guarantees all Disabled learners a right to participate in all forms of mainstream education with appropriate support. When the UK Government ratified the UNCRPD in June 2009 it decided to place a number of restrictions on its UNCRPD obligations. Two of those restrictions relate to Article 24. The first is an Interpretative Declaration which clarifies the UK Government definition of a ‘general education system’. The Interpretative Declaration text states that:
“Education – Convention Article 24 Clause 2 (a) and (b)
The United Kingdom Government is committed to continuing to develop an inclusive system where parents of disabled children have increasing access to mainstream schools and staff, which have the capacity to meet the needs of disabled children. The General Education System in the United Kingdom includes mainstream, and special schools, which the UK Government understands is allowed under the Convention.”
The UK Government also placed a Reservation against Article 24 which states that:
Education – Convention Article 24 Clause 2 (a) and 2 (b)
The United Kingdom reserves the right for disabled children to be educated outside their local community where more appropriate education provision is available elsewhere. Nevertheless, parents of disabled children have the same opportunity as other parents to state a preference for the school at which they wish their child to be educated.
- The UK is still one of only two countries in the world to place restrictions against Article 24 (the other being Mauritius). ALLFIE believes this is a completely unacceptable position for the UK to take and we are focused on working to get these restrictions overturned. The newly published General Comment on Article 24 has been a real boost to our campaigning work and it strengthens our messages about the UK Government being out of step with the rest of the world.
- ALLFIE continues to work, with others, to put pressure on Government to fully implement Article 24 as written in the Convention and fulfil its obligation to support and develop the capacity of all mainstream education providers to become inclusive of all disabled learners.
- ALLFIE is now working with a wider coalition of Disabled people's organisations (DPOs), called the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (www.rofa.org.uk) to write a civil society 'shadow' report about how well (or not) the Government is doing in implementing the Convention – ALLFIE is writing about Article 24 implementation. The 'shadow' report will help the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities when it scrutinises the UK Government.
- We want to hear from you what your experience of education has been here in the UK, what you think made your experience more difficult or what you think made your experience better or could have made your experience of education better. If we receive your stories before December 2016, we will be able to include them in the 'shadow' report. Please contact Tara at the ALLFIE office for more information.
- ALLFIE's participation in the UNCRPD discussions secured a commitment to inclusive education in Article 24 for all disabled learners. Since then more than 145 countries have signed and ratified the UN Convention in full.
- ALLFIE's lobbying in the lead up to the UNCRPD being ratified by the UK Government in 2009 ensured that despite the Reservation & Interpretative Declaration, the commitment to building the capacity of mainstream education remained.
- With ALLFIE being a member of the DPO-led Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance, Article 24 and Inclusive Education will remain one of the top priorities for the Disabled People's Movement.
- ALLFIE's submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities strengthened the text of the recently published General Comment on Article 24.
Article 24 can be found here: Article 24
Read ALLFIE's position on the Article 24 Reservation and Interpretive Declaration: UNCRPD Background Paper on Article 24