20 Mar 2009

THE Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, welcomed the UK Government’s signing up to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Ms Lewsley said the Convention would help safeguard the rights of disabled children and young people for the future and ensure they enjoy equal rights.

“We are concerned however, that the UK Government is considering not fully implementing all of the Convention,” said Ms Lewsley.

“One area of particular concern for us is the provision of education for children and young people with special educational needs in mainstream and special schools.

“We understand and respect the decision of some parents to choose a special school for their child, including one away from their local community if it meets their specific needs.

“It is important to remember that the Convention calls for all people with disabilities in Northern Ireland to be educated together at all levels.

“This includes a quality and free primary and post-primary education, on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live.

“We would like to see a full and unreserved commitment by the Government to the rights of all children and young people to be educated together, as clearly stated in Article 24 of the Convention.

“If the Government maintains this position we would call for them to clarify how they will ensure that the educational needs of all children and young people are met.”

MEDIA ENQUIRIES For more information please contact Andrew McGall, Communication Officer at NICCY on 028 9031 1616 or   communications@niccy.org