Education Law should distinguish disabled children from those with health constraints
Moscow 3 December 2014
Communal organisations are asking for the law to distinguish between children with disabilities and children affected by health constraints
The Law on Education does not cover the category of children with disabilities, which leads to discrimination and restrictions on their right to education, according to Elena Kluging, member of the working group of the presidential committee on people with disabilities that is looking at the development of accessible and quality primary and general education for such people. The law deals only with children affected by health constraints, which is a category that does not always include children with disabilities.
On 3 December there were open hearings in the public chamber concerned with a national report on measures taken for complying with obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and Strategies for Dealing with People with Disabilities. The question of education was touched on. Specialists think that the categories of children with disabilities and children affected by health constraints should be distinguished.
According to various estimates about 40,000 children with disabilities do not fall into the category of those affected by health constraints. This amounts to real discrimination against them. These are quite different groups of children. On average there is less than half as many children with disabilities as those affected by health constraints in the general education system, according to a leading specialist from the Institute for Social and Economic Problems of the Russian Academy of Science, Elena Klugina. She says that children with disabilities are mainly taught in normal classes whilst those affected by health constraints are taught in corrective classes and schools. Furthermore, in Russia, unlike children with disabilities, 80% of those affected by health constraints have mental issues, delayed psychological development and learning difficulties. Elena Kulagina thinks it important to understand that effective policy formation is dependant on understanding this.
Also, a third of children with disabilities study at home. In fact, current legislation does not contemplate special conditions or standards for children with disabilities. Everything is prescribed only for those affected by health constraints. Ms Kulagina said that if there were special provision for children with disabilities in schools, they would not be sitting at home, because no distance learning can assure them a full education. The failure of the legislation to make the distinction discussed had led to confusion in the report on implementation of the Convention as the number of children with health constraints had been included in the number of those with disabilities in the section of the report dealing with education. Other leading figures agreed that the education law was in need of amendment. Elena Klochko, chair of the NGOs’ coordinating council on children with disabilities and member of the RF governmental council on social guardianship, said it was obvious that the two groups intersected whilst the law treated children with disabilities as being included in the group of those with health constraints.
Larisa Falkovskaya head of the department of state policy on children’s rights in the Ministry of Education, thought that the question of disaggregating the two categories was open to discussion. She did not totally agree with separating them. The issue needed examining not only from the legal aspect but also the economic. It would make sense for the federal public chamber to consider the subject to define the concepts and decide what should be included in the law on education.
Author: Yulia Vyatkina