Table 8: Disability and the right to education

Table 8:  Disability and the right to education 

Examples of Human Rights Violations

  • Parents of a child with intellectual disabilities are told that their daughter cannot go to school because she is ‘uneducable.’
  • No education is provided to children in an institution.
  • A person with a disability is denied vocational training on the basis of their disability.
  • Parents of a child with a disability are not provided adequate resources to assist them in sending their child to school.
  • A child with a disability does not attend the local school because of the lack of transportation.
Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
CRPD 24(1) States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to education . . .

CRPD 24(2) In realizing this right, States Parties shall ensure that:  (a) Persons with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system on the basis of disability, and that children with disabilities are not excluded from free and compulsory education, of from secondary education, on the basis of disability.


CRPD:  recommending that Argentina “develop a comprehensive State education policy that guarantees the right to inclusive education and allocates sufficient budgetary resources to ensure progress towards the establishment of an education system that includes students with disabilities. The Committee also urges the State party to intensify its efforts to ensure that all children with disabilities receive a full compulsory education as established by the State party, while devoting particular attention to indigenous peoples and other rural communities. It likewise urges the State party to take the necessary steps to ensure that pupils with disabilities who attend special schools are enrolled in inclusive schools and to offer reasonable adjustments for students with disabilities within the general education system.”  CRPD/C/ARG/CO/1 (CRPD, 2012).

CRPD: recommending that Spain:

“Increase its efforts to provide reasonable accommodation in education, by: allocating sufficient financial and human resources to implement the right to inclusive education;  paying particular attention to assessing the availability of teachers with specialist qualifications; and ensuring that educational departments of local governments understand their obligations under the Convention and act in conformity with its provisions;

Ensure that the decisions to place children with a disability in a special school or in special classes, or to offer them solely a reduced – standard curriculum, are taken in consultation with the parents;

Ensure that the parents of children with disabilities are not obliged to pay for the education or for the measures of reasonable accommodation in mainstream schools;

Ensure that decisions on placing children in segregated settings can be appealed swiftly and effectively.”  CRPD/C/ESP/CO/1 (CRPD, 2011).

CRPD: recommending that China “reallocate resources from the special education system to promote the inclusive education in mainstream schools, so as to ensure that more children with disabilities can attend mainstream education.” CRPD/C/CHN/CO/1 (2012).

CRPD: recommending that Peru “allocate sufficient budget resources to achieve advances in the progress for an inclusive education system for children and adolescents with disabilities, and take appropriate measures to identify and reduce illiteracy among children with disabilities, especially indigenous and Afro-Peruvian children.”  CRPD/C/PER/CO/1 (2012).

CRPD: noting that in Tunisia “the inclusion strategy is not equally implemented in schools; rules relating to the number of children in mainstream schools and to the management of inclusive classes are commonly breached; and schools are not equitably distributed between regions of the same governorate.”  CRPD/C/TUN/CO/1 (CRPD, 2011).

CRC 28(1) States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:

(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all;

(c) Make higher education accessible to all on the on the basis of capacity by every appropriate means;

(e) Take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-out rates.


CRC Committee: recommending that Australia “Give priority to inclusive education of children with disabilities and ensure that the best interests of each child are a primary consideration in decisions concerning his/her school enrolment.” CRC/C/AUT/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2012).

CRC Committee: recommending that Bosnia and Herzegovina “Ensure that children with disabilities enjoy their right to education, and provide for their inclusion in the mainstream education system to the greatest extent possible, including by developing a disability education action plan to specifically identify current inadequacies in resources, and to establish clear objectives with concrete timelines for the implementation of measures to address the educational needs of children with disabilities.” CRC/C/BIH/CO/2-4 (CRC, 2012).

CRC Committee: recommending that Namibia “Ensure that children with disabilities are able to exercise their right to education, and provide for their inclusion in the mainstream education system to the greatest extent possible, including by providing teachers with special training, by increasing facilities for children with disabilities and by making schools more accessible.” CRC/C/NAM/CO/2-3 (CRC, 2012).

CRC Committee: stating to Italy that “[w]hile welcoming efforts to integrate children with disabilities in the school system, the Committee is concerned that disability is still conceptualized as a “handicap” rather than approached with the aim of ensuring the social inclusion of children with disabilities, and that there are regional disparities in the provision of specialist teachers in schools” and recommending that Italy “provide sufficient numbers of specialist teachers to all schools so that all children with disabilities can enjoy access to high – quality inclusive education.” CRC/C/ITA/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2011).

CRC Committee: recommending that Cyprus “establish a clear legislative definition of inclusive education. It further recommends that the State party adopt measures, including reasonable accommodation in all schools, to ensure that children with disabilities are able to exercise their right to education, and provide for their inclusion in the mainstream education system.” CRC/C/CYP/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2012).

CRC Committee:  raising concerns to Bulgaria about the inadequate education for children in “social care institutions” and considers these children need to be provided with mainstream education. CRC/C/BGR/CO/2, 2008.

CRC Committee: concerned about the limited inclusion of children with disabilities in the educational system in Kazakhstan and Ukraine. CRC/C/15/ADD.213 (CRC, 2003), para. 54; CRC/C/15/ADD.191 (CRC, 2002), para. 53.

CRC Committee: noting the limited number of trained teachers to work with children with disabilities, insufficient efforts made to facilitate the children’s inclusion into the educational system, and inadequate resources allocated to special education in India, Rwanda, and Zambia. CRC/C/15/ADD.228 (CRC, 2004), para. 56; CRC/C/15/ADD.234 (CRC, 2004), para. 46; CRC/C/15/ADD.206 (CRC, 2003), para. 52.

CRC Committee: recommending that Kyrgyzstan integrate children with disabilities into the regular educational system and for increased resources for special education.  CRC/C/15/Add.244 (CRC, 2004), para. 48.

Human Rights Standards Case Law
ESC 15 … the Parties undertake in particular (1) to take the necessary measures to provide persons with disabilities with guidance, education and vocational training in the framework of general schemes wherever possible or, where this is not possible, through specialised bodies, public or private;

ESC 17(1) With a view to ensuring the effective exercise of the right of children and young persons to group up in an environment which encourages the full development of their personality and of their physical and mental capacities, the Parties undertake . . . (1)(a) to ensure that children and young persons . . . have the care, the assistance, the education n and the training they need.

ECSR: held that France violated Article 15 and 17 because insufficient provision was made for the education of children and adults with autism.  International Association Autism-Europe v. France, Complaint No. 13/2002.

ECSR: held that Bulgaria violated Article 17 “because children with moderate, severe or profound intellectual disabilities residing in HMDCs do not have an effective right to education,” and “because there is discrimination against children with moderate, severe or profound intellectual disabilities residing in HMDCs as a result of the low number of such children receiving any type of education when compared to other children.”  Mental Disability Advocacy Center (MDAC) v. Bulgaria, Complaint No. 41/2007.

Other Interpretations 

The UN Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities 1993:  States should recognize the principle of equal primary, secondary and tertiary educational opportunities for children, youth and adults with disabilities, in integrated settings. They should ensure that the education of persons with disabilities is an integral part of the educational system. [Standard Rules, 6].

United Nations Guidelines for the Alternative Care for Children: stating that children “should have access to formal, non-formal and vocational education in accordance with their rights, to the maximum extent possible in educational facilities in the local community.” (November 2009, para. 85).

Council of Europe: stating that “all children have rights, hence disabled children have the same rights to family life, education, health, social care and vocational training as all children; long-term planning involving all stakeholders will be needed to ensure that children with disabilities are able to exercise the same rights as other children and to access social rights on the same basis as other children.” (CM/Rec(2010)2).