International Day of Persons with disabilities: Support Teacher For Inclusion


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On 3 December, ETUCE celebrates the International Day of Persons with Disabilities by renewing its commitment to the full empowerment of teachers and students with disabilities and their active participation in economy and society. Education trade unions play an important role to support the building of inclusive schools as a learning environment and workplace. On this occasion, education trade unions are mobilising for national and European initiatives with the motto “There are no disabilities. Just different abilities” and calling to #SupportTeachersForInclusion. A wide of range of national activities and testimonies from teachers working with students with special needs are displayed on the ETUCE’s webpage built in the framework of the ETUCE project ‘Trade Unions and Inclusive Schools: Embracing Diversity in Education’.

This year’s celebration focuses on “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 world.  As we know, the rights of people with disabilities of having equal opportunities and access to inclusive workplace and learning environments are protected by the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Nevertheless, under-representation of people with disabilities in the teaching profession, absence of appropriate accommodations and psychological support in the workplace, as well as increased privatisation and the lack of public funds, inadequate infrastructures, shortage of expert teachers and supporting staff are just some of the challenges that hinder the quality of life of people with disabilities and undermine inclusion and equality in education. Also, the lack of support and training for teachers remains another big concern.  ETUCE research , reveals that in of 87% of cases public training for teachers, trainers, academics and other educational personnel on this topic is insufficient or missing totally.

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The recent time, marked by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been particularly complicated for people with disabilities. The rights of people with disabilities during the recovery from this pandemic was also a central theme of the 2-day seminar organised by the European Commission and the European Disability Forum. In addition to the challenges in non-COVID-19 circumstances, a high share of students with disabilities and special needs were left without the necessary educational support. As yet, the calls from civil society and social partners to guarantee equal access to remote education remained unheard and a high non-returning rate at the school reopening was reported by education trade unions. Moreover, being more exposed to major health risks, teachers with disabilities are more vulnerable and subjected to precarious working conditions and fewer career opportunities. ETUCE warns that this will have harmful consequences on the social and economic inclusion of people with disabilities and special needs.

In view of the upcoming Strategy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030, that the European Commission has  announced recently in its Work programme 2021, Susan Flocken, ETUCE European Director says “We are worried about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with disabilities. We expect to see in the new Strategy a solid legal framework that removes all obstacles to inclusive education and employment in the education sector. ETUCE underlines in its views, that an effective strategy needs to be supported with adequate public funding, that is able to provide increased support to schools, teachers and students with disabilities, and their families. Likewise, teachers who have a crucial role in implementing inclusion, have to be adequately trained with initial and continuous professional training on disability and special needs issues”.

Discover the Education Trade Unions's actions 

Read testimonies from teachers