On 12 October 2017, the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs held a ‘Workshop on the Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ for the Committee on Petitions (PETI). It took place in the European Parliament, Brussels.
The workshop formed part of the 2017 PETI research programme. It consisted of two panel sessions and the presentation of a new Agency study on inclusive education. The study entitled ‘Inclusive Education for Learners with Disabilities’ published in September was prepared by the Agency, at the request of the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs.
The first session focused on developments relating to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the European Union (EU) context, while the second session addressed legal and social protection for persons with disabilities.
The morning started with introductory remarks by Cecilia Wikström, Member of the European Parliament and the chair of the PETI Committee. Then, Serge Ebersold, from the Agency, presented the study ‘Inclusive Education for Learners with Disabilities’. The questions following the presentation focused on the impact of the economic crisis on inclusive education within EU member states, and how this has affected the diversity of teachers available. Attention was also brought to how the EU institutions could lead the way in bringing inclusive education to the forefront of debate.
Mr Ebersold highlighted the individual journey for each country, and the change in focus of inclusive education from focusing on disability, to focusing on inclusion for all children. He pointed out that there has been strong momentum towards inclusive education in Europe.
Representatives from various organisations, such as the European Disability Forum, Inclusion Europe, the Office of the European Ombudsman and the EU-Directorate General for Employment gave presentations during the event about ongoing work in the field.