Following Unia’s recommendations and ruling in favour of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and Inclusion Europe, the Committee condemns the French Community of Belgium for the lack of efforts made for the educational inclusion of students with intellectual disabilities. The Committee unambiguously acknowledges the existence of a violation of the (revised) European Social Charter.
By recognising that the effective right to an inclusive education is not being guaranteed for students with intellectual disabilities in the French Community of Belgium, the Committee highlights the violation of other international human rights conventions. In particular, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) for which Unia has a mandate to monitor compliance.
At a joint press conference on February 3, 2021, Unia, the General Delegate for the Rights of the Child and the Minister of Education in the French Community of Belgium discussed this condemnation and endeavoured to outline future efforts together, despite sometimes differing priorities, in the best interests of the children.
Requests from Unia in association with Inclusion, FIDH and the General Delegate for the Rights of the Child:
At the press conference, the Minister of Education, Caroline Désir, emphasised that the French Community of Belgium already offers students with intellectual disabilities:
However, she is fully aware that more needs to be done.
The Minister underscores the importance of allowing the various stakeholders to compare notes and to change the way in which they view disability. However, building a more inclusive school is not just about decrees, roadmaps or studies. It is also a choice we make as a society.
With that in mind, the Minister would like to organise a roundtable meeting on the care of students with intellectual disabilities. This round table will bring together the various ministers responsible for the disability sector at all levels of government, representatives of parents’ associations, representatives of associations that support these pupils in the field, representatives of stakeholders in the field such as members of staff in special and mainstream education, the directors of schools that have these pupils in their classes, representatives of institutional stakeholders, the General Delegate for the Rights of the Child and Unia.