UN expert calls for all children – regardless of differences – to be educated together

21 March 2007

Children with disabilities have the right to an inclusive education and Member States must increase efforts to ensure that all children, regardless of differences, learn together, the United Nations independent expert on the right to education said today.

Vernor Muñoz Villalobos, the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, told the Human Rights Council in Geneva that educational systems should stop seeing children with disabilities as problems, but rather as an opportunity to enrich schools.

In delivering his report to the 47-member body, he pointed out that both the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child implicitly contain the concept of inclusive education.

It is estimated that 120 million children with disabilities live in poverty and that children with disabilities are more likely to drop out of school, he added.

In school systems segregating children with disabilities from those without, special education institutions often do not meet the needs of children with special needs, Mr. Villalobos, who has recently carried out missions to Germany, Morocco and Malaysia, asserted.

Obstacles to inclusive education include limited resources and the lack of genuine political will, he noted, calling on governments to take responsibility for the education of disabled children.

Outlining his recent trip to Morocco, Mr. Villalobos said that the Government has taken measures to protect human rights in general as well as take steps to bolster the education system.

Mohammed Loulichki, Morocco’s representative at the meeting, said that social integration should be promoted through education, and to this end, the Government has established a national plan to combat the problem of dropouts, especially in rural areas.

In another report presented to the Council, Jose Luis Gomez del Prado, the Rapporteur of the Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries as a means of violating human rights, said that States have the monopoly over the use of force, yet paid little attention to the phenomenon of mercenaries.

He travelled to Honduras, Ecuador and Peru to collect data, and urges that military and private security companies be prohibited from involvement in armed conflict.

Mr. Gomez del Prado voiced concern about Chilean and Honduran nationals receiving training in Honduras and then being sent to work in Iraq. He recommended that changes be made to ban export of private military or security services.

Bernards Andrew Nyamwaya Mudho, the Independent Expert on the effects of economic reform policies and foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights, submitted a report which called for country-specific macroeconomic solutions instead of one-size-fits-all programmes. The report also proposed that countries’ international human rights obligations must always be taken into consideration in reforming health and education sectors.

The fourth session of the Human Rights Council, created to replace the Commission on Human Rights which had been criticized for ignoring abuses in many countries, will conclude on 30 March.

 

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