All children are welcome to school, including children with a disability
9 out of 10 children with a disability are not welcome to school
Yes, you read that correctly. Nine out of ten. Which is more than 33,000,000 children throughout the world. And whilst all these children would just as much like to go to school, but are not able or allowed to, or do not dare to. Countries have mutually agreed* that it should be possible for all children to go to school no matter what. So this includes children with a disability. But precisely this vulnerable group is commonly left behind at home. And if we don’t act, will also be left behind in life. We are sounding the alarm bell, and say: all children are welcome to school, including children with a disability.
Hence 10 urgent action points:
All children want to be able to reach school.
Provide children with a disability (adapted) transport to school.
It already starts with the journey into school. For many children with disabilities impossible and unaffordable. National and local authorities, schools and parents of other children should be able to help finding transport solutions. Free transport should be available and mandatory.
All children want to be able to enter and pass through the school.
Make school buildings, furniture and grounds accessible for children with a disability.
Often there is a school, but a child with a disability sadly stays outside. Because the doors and hallways are too small, stairs impassable or furniture unsuitable. High time to take this into account in the construction of every school.
All children want to be able to visit the restroom.
Provide an adapted restroom at every school for children with a disability.
It seems so insignificant, but if you have a disability and cannot even visit the toilet, every school day turns into a misery. So adapted, hygienic restrooms are a must in every school building.
All children want to receive ‘honest’ education.
Adapt lessons and rules for children with a disability.
Children with a disability also want to learn and experience success. But do give them the time, the guidance and the tools to suit the child’s ability. And deal with rules around lessons and exams flexibly.
All children want to play.
Allow children with a disability to participate in sports and games at school.
Children with a disability also want to exercise and have fun. Because it promotes health and happiness. And it helps them making friends. Nice thing is: it can be done, as long as they are taken into account. Especially in schools.
All children want friends.
Teach children how they can be there for children with a disability.
Being bullied or excluded is often more painful for children with a disability than the disability itself. Therefore encourage children to be mutually understanding and helpful at school and at home.
All children want parents to help.
Stand up as parents for children with a disability.
Parents of children with and without a disability are immensely important for a school. They are able to support the teachers, but also to stand up for the children who need it. Let’s encourage and help parents to do this.
All children want good guidance.
Train teachers how they can better council children with a disability.
Not all teachers know how to properly support children with a disability. That is not due to a lack of willingness but often a lack of knowledge. So train teachers which ways and materials work and which don’t.
All children want positive attention.
Children with a disability have the right to go to school.
Children with a disability often have to fight hard against prejudices. It happens too often that they do not count, and do not have the courage or permission to go to school. All children deserve attention and equal opportunities. Especially when it comes to learning.
All children want to just be a kid.
Let children with a disability advance and enjoy.
It sounds so logical. Yet many children with a disability do not have a carefree and joyful life. While they, just like other children, like to play, enjoy, discover and learn. That is why going to school is especially important.
It is high time that ‘accessible education’ becomes a reality in all nations. That all schools cease their barriers. That all children get fair opportunities. That all parents are able and dare to stand up for their children. And that all authorities ensure that the right to education for all children is respected and is something they are committed to.
All children with a disability must feel really welcome at school. Wherever they are in the world.