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HFHR asks Education Ministry about students with disabilities

♦ The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has approached the Ministry of Education regarding access to education for students with disabilities.

♦ A report published by the Supreme Audit Office in 2018 showed significant deficits in the provision of adequate support to this category of students.

♦ The HFHR asked the Education Minister what measures had been taken to better adapt the education system to cater to the individual educational needs of students with disabilities.

Supreme Audit Office reviews schools and preschools

The review revealed that irregularities in ensuring appropriate conditions for students with disabilities occurred in nearly half of the evaluated facilities. In particular, the review pointed to problems with the development and updating of individual educational and therapeutic programs, which determine the modifications of the educational process and necessary adjustments made in order to adjust the curriculum to students’ individual needs. Difficulties have also been observed in the practical and accurate implementation of the recommendations contained in special needs education certificates. The Supreme Audit Office report shows that only 22% of the reviewed institutions were adapted to the needs of students with physical disabilities. At the same time, the audit showed that the schools and preschools failed to fully utilise a portion of their budgets allocated to finance the instruction of students with special educational needs.

Right of persons with disabilities to education

In its letter to the Minister, the Foundation reminded that State-Parties to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are obliged to ensure an inclusive education system which enables people with disabilities to be integrated at all levels of education. Furthermore, the Convention prohibits disability discrimination in access to education and points to the need to guarantee reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities in the course of their education. It is therefore incumbent on the state to create a framework for an education system that takes into account the specific needs of persons with disabilities. The facilities introduced for this purpose should constitute a real mechanism for equalising the opportunities of students with disabilities, so as to ensure the realisation of the right to universal and equal access to education.

Difficulties not only in Poland

Notably, in July 2019 the HFHR and the Forum for Human Rights submitted an amicus curiae brief to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in a similar case brought against Romania. The case concerns a boy diagnosed with special educational needs who complained about having been harassed because of his disability in a public school. The brief notes that students with disabilities face difficulties in exercising their right to education not only in Romania but also elsewhere in Europe.

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