Inclusive school system is working in Switzerland
Published: 03 August 2015
Insieme is an organisation from Switzerland.
Teachers, students, families and school directors
Inclusion Europe member Insieme recently shared the results of a study on schooling integration of children with disabilities led in two cantons of Switzerland. The results show that inclusive education is working in the country.
Public inclusive schools practice non-discrimination and give the right to basic education for children with physical disabilities, intellectual disability or behavioral problems. The inclusive schools adjust to their specific needs, respect their well-being and provide them with the necessary conditions to develop their potential. These classes also allow the other children to learn how to act when confronted to a handicap.
Mainstream and specialized teachers and directors of schools, as well as pupils and parents, took part in the study. Around 95% of the pupils without disabilities said that the disabled children were fully integrated in the class and that they felt well studying together. Indeed, this experience represents an advantage for the children without disabilities, as well as the children with disabilities. The large majority of interviewees believed that the introduction of inclusive schooling was successful.
In Switzerland, the “Equality Act for Disabled” of December 13, 2002 obliges cantons to provide for basic education adapted to the needs of children and adolescents, including the establishment of inclusive schools f children with disabilities can attend. Under the provisions of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, signed by Switzerland in 2007 and which came into force in 2014, contracting States must "ensure that the education system will provide for educational inclusion at all levels and throughout the life."
However, the majority of interviewees agree on the fact that integration still represents a challenge because the cantons do not provide enough human and financial resources. Therefore, many obstacles remain, including the inadequate training of the staff or the need of equipment and building refurbishment. Also, the transition to secondary school is delicate because the school has to welcome many disabled children coming from different primary schools at the same time while there are only a few classes available.
Disabled children have a right to education and schools have a responsibility to educate all children. Thus, the inclusive school system represents a significant improvement for children with disabilities and their classmates. The introduction of more inclusive practices in education necessitates change and appropriate financial and human resources in order to provide educational support to all learners.