Inclusive education benefits all students, with or without disabilities

BRUSSELS – 27 March 2015

There are few areas which cause more heartbreak and distress for children with intellectual disabilities and their parents than education does. The statistics are clear – children with intellectual disabilities are increasingly excluded from mainstream schooling, and either isolated in special schools, or denied access to education completely. In many European Union (EU) member states, such as Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, Greece, United Kingdom, Lithuania, and Romania, the majority of students with intellectual disabilities and complex needs are referred to segregated schools. This is a clear breach of the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was ratified by the European Union in 2010.

Therefore, the need for inclusive education for all children with disabilities is one of the points highlighted in the Alternative Report on the Implementation of the UN CRPD, a document developed by the European disability movement to aid the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in their review of EU’s progress since it ratified the human rights treaty. Published by the European Disability Forum, the Alternative Report calls on the European Commission to support EU countries in developing inclusive education systems by promoting the use of European funding instruments to ensure both appropriate training for staff members and the development of accessible educational material, paying particular attention to children with complex needs. Moreover, the Commission should include disability-specific indicators in the Europe 2020 Strategy when pursuing the target on education, particularly as in 2011 only 27% of persons with disabilities aged 30-34 had completed tertiary education in the EU.

Inclusion Europe will be in Geneva to voice its main concerns on the implementation of the Convention, and advocate for equal opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities, particularly in the area of education. In a Briefing Document disseminated to the CRPD Committee members, Inclusion Europe is prompting them to ensure that European institutions develop concrete methods of making certain that children with intellectual disabilities are not forced to become early school leavers, and that they receive reasonable accommodation to be able to participate in the mainstream school system.

Inclusion is not just about supporting individual students with disabilities – an inclusive education is a good indicator of quality education for all students, as it leads to wider-ranging curricula and instructional strategies, adapted tests and assessment instruments, differentiated teaching methods and universally designed environments. All of this contributes to the overall development of the capabilities and skills of all students, with or without disabilities.

For more information, please contact Silvana Enculescu, Inclusion Europe Communications Manager, at