Evaluation and arguing points on Report of Reasonable Accommodation Working Group toward realization of Inclusive Education(Nationwide Support Center for Students with Disabilities TONOOKA Tsubasa)
The article "A Voice of our own" published in our periodical #27-4 is as following;
We have been making a strong effort on inclusive education for children with disabilities overcoming many difficulties. In midst of this, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology-Japan (hereinafter referred to as “MEXT”) revised the Ordinance for Enforcement of the School Education Act in 2003 and introduced a new enrollment standard and special certification system. In 2007, schools were mandated to hear parents’ opinions before they decide the school to enter. Investigation Research Cooperator Conference on promotion of the special support education suggested, in its interim report in February, 2009, a new system which decides the school to enter judging education and support in each school is introduced.
After historic political change in 2009, Committee for disability policy reform was established and its first opinion influenced the Cabinet decision. Based on this decision, MEXT requested the primary/secondary education working team in Central Council for Education to discuss on inclusive education. In response, the working team set up the special committee for the special support education in July, 2007 and the committee set up the Working Group on environmental arrangement for reasonable accommodation (hereinafter referred to as “WG”) in July, 2011. In the same month, Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities was revised and it says; “children and students with disabilities need to be considered to be included in general education as much as possible”. The WG discussed based on this principle. The argued points were reported in “Perspective of reasonable accommodation in school (hereinafter referred to as “the Report”)” on February 13, 2011.
The Report defines 1) “reasonable accommodation” as a duty that school supports children with disabilities, 2) “basic environmental arrangement” as the governmental responsibility to arrange environment and illustrates contents and method of education, support system, facility and instrument.
According to the Report, the definition of reasonable accommodation is that schools are mandated to take appropriate arrangements for children with disabilities to secure the rights to receive education equally with other children and it is individually required when children with disabilities receive education depending on each situation. The definition of basic environmental arrangement is that the government takes legal and/or financial measures to arrange education environment at national/prefectural/municipal level and it is the basis of reasonable accommodation.
DPI-Japan has been developing the movement to shift the education system from separate school system to inclusive education in which all kinds of children study together. Considering the purpose of its movement, the Report was not acceptable. However, it was a big progress that reasonable accommodation at general school is adapted. It is required, with strategic use of the Report, to improve the environment surrounds not only children at general school but also all of children. Evaluation and arguing points of the Report are as follows;
At first, it is highly regarded that negative reaction of reasonable accommodation is described as “discrimination” referring CRPD Article 2. It is also regarded that schools and its owners are mandated to take reasonable accommodation, which was addressed by Mr. Chihara, manager of Special Education Division, MEXT, at the Panel for Anti-discrimination Law on January 27.
But it is not acceptable that “reasonable accommodation” doesn’t have same meanings between in Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities and in CRPD. Though it was confirmed in the Congress, there is apparent intention to avoid the consistence with Article 4 of the Basic Law. And it was not clearly mentioned whether taking reasonable accommodation is legal duty or duty for persons with disabilities themselves based on their own rights. The Report didn’t mention how to promote equal opportunity, which is one of classical values of reasonable accommodation.
Secondly, with regard to definition of reasonable accommodation, it is acceptable that the Report mentions Third Party meditates the conflict between “school and its owners” and “students and their parents”. It is also acceptable that there were possible and flexible revision after determination of reasonable accommodation and descriptions about parents with disabilities and teachers with disabilities.
There are, however, some problems. The Report didn’t clearly mention the mandatory to hear the needs of “students and their parents” in decision of reasonable accommodation. According to the administration office, MEXT, it will be done during the individual support plan making by “school and its owners” and “students and their parents”. Although the Reports says that it is important to include children with disabilities into general classes as much as possible, it also remains separate education by saying that children with disabilities are not always at general classes and various programs can be adapted flexibly.
Thirdly, with regard to basic environmental arrangement, the Report defines it as a base of reasonable accommodation which is determined individually. It is acceptable that the Reports defines that doing basic environmental arrangement is the duty of local governments. Targets of basic environmental arrangement are not only facilities and equipments of schools, but also special education teacher license holding status, specialist arrangement like coordinator, trainings and barrier-free textbooks.
While governments expends for basic environmental arrangement, regional gap is a problem to be solved. Doing basic environmental arrangement is discussed as “heavy burden” for local governments. Whether 20million or even Yen lift installation in municipal governments which has 50million Yen budget for education is “heavy burden” was a discussed point at the meeting. It depends on standing position, but basic environmental arrangement cannot be neglected due to “heavy burden”.
In particular areas, there were some remarkable points ; 1) ICF utilization in disability status, 2) schools and its owners are not allowed to ask parents to stay at schools without consideration, 3) support system in case of emergency, and 4) to secure teachers with disabilities.
In the final report made by the special committee for the special support education, to solve the above mentioned problems are expected. Besides, given the implementation of medical care at schools and the survey of children with disabilities in general classes, it is necessary to make policy to secure the rights of children with disabilities.
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