31st July 2008
For Immediate Use
Joint Approach Needed To Improve Special Education
The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa says communities, schools, parents and the government have a joint responsibility to ensure that children with special needs can access quality public education.
The IHC is laying a complaint with the Human Rights Commission saying disabled students are being prevented from fully participating at their local schools due to government policies and practices.
NZEI firmly believes that the individual needs of all students should be met and that all students have the same opportunities and access to quality teaching and learning.
However it acknowledges that the IHC's action comes as a result of frustration and concern from parents over the lack of resources and the barriers their children face.
NZEI National President Frances Nelson says "the fact that many schools have given affidavits in support of the IHC complaint shows the level of frustration for schools and teachers as well. Schools are the meat in the sandwich. The core issue for schools is about being able to resource these children, not about the will to include them."
"There is no one size fits all solution. The difficulties are high level and systemic, but NZEI is eager to try and find ways to make the system work for the benefit of all children," she says.
NZEI also says many children with special needs face attitudinal barriers which the wider community must address.
It says the IHC's action will raise the level of debate on the delivery of special needs education and hopes it will lead to some meaningful discussion about its future, so that every child can fulfill their right to learn.