In the context of our 2020 campaign about Inclusive Education, Inclusion Europe published a paper on Inclusive Education and Legal Capacity, highlighting the importance of Inclusive Education for the integration of people with disabilities and their legal capacity.
The importance of Inclusive Education
Inclusive education includes all students in the learning process regardless of their disabilities. It allows for an environment of growth, acceptance, and diversity that can alter the way young people view intellectual disabilities.
Education is about more than the curriculum. It includes life-skills that are very important for people with intellectual disabilities. It is crucial that those skills are given the appropriate amount of attention, ensuring all students learn from each other.
Segregated Schools vs Inclusive Education
The segregated education system that separates students with intellectual disabilities is problematic as it perpetuates the exclusion of people with disabilities from society and does not equip them with all the skills necessary for their future.
When comparing segregated schools and schools that practice inclusive education, it becomes clear that students with intellectual disabilities learned better in the latter environment. Having a student with intellectual disabilities in the classroom can help the other students understand the different forms of disability, learn about diversity, and grow up to be more accepting.
Legal Capacity and people with intellectual disabilities
People with intellectual disabilities are often treated significantly differently compared to the other members of society, starting from the rights they are given or not given. Legal capacity, which is defined as “the capacity to hold a right and the capacity to act and exercise the right, including the legal capacity to sue based on such rights” is often limited or denied to people with intellectual disabilities.
While guardianship and support can be rather helpful, and it is true that everyone needs help when making decisions, this concept is often harmful for people with intellectual disabilities. Inclusion Europe advocates for supported decision making, which allows the person with intellectual disabilities to choose another person who will support them in finding the information needed to make decisions.
The current state and the future of Inclusive Education
Inclusive Education can help limit this segregation later on in life and allow space for people with intellectual disabilities to receive information and make their own decisions, surrounded by their chosen support system.
Education is an opportunity to not only learn but also grow and become more accepting. While it sounds ideal, the truth is that there are limited examples of successful Inclusive Education practices across Europe. Limited financial support, lack of a positive attitude from the teachers’ side, and poor implementation of the practices indicate that there still is a long way to go when it comes to having inclusive education in schools. In order to see positive results, an appropriate legal framework, active participation of all students and the further equipment of the teaching staff with skills and resources are required elements.