For real inclusion in school for children with disabilities

The Socialist Party (PS) tabled a bill calling for real school inclusion for children with disabilities in Geneva. Inspired by the Ticino model, the text requires that each primary school, by definition close to the students’ homes, have inclusive classes and specialized classes.

“We want to stop segregation for those who manage to be in mixed classes with supervision and generalize specialized classes. We want only one school”, summarized Wednesday before the media the socialist deputy author of the text Cyril Mizrahi, also vice-president of the Geneva Federation of associations of disabled people and their relatives (FéGAPH) and lawyer for Inclusion handicap.

The bill plans to reduce the numbers of so-called inclusive classes so that they can accommodate up to four students with special educational needs, with a specialist teacher working alongside the regular teacher. As for the specialized classes, they will have up to eight students, with a supervision rate of one full-time teacher for three students.

A convincing Ticino version

In Ticino, this model has existed since 2011. Of the 500 students with special educational needs, 150 attend one of the 49 inclusive classes in the canton, explained State Councilor Manuele Bertoli, in charge of Public Education. The other 350 go to special classes with reduced numbers, also located in regular schools, an even older specificity.

“The experience is good,” noted the Ticino magistrate, welcoming the fact that this model allows students to have a more normal social relationship with their peers and to be educated closer to home. The canton now has 420 specialist teachers out of the 3,927 compulsory school teachers.

Current inclusive school branded as ‘sprinkling’

Implemented in Geneva in 2014, the measures for inclusive schools are described as “sprinkling” by Green MP Marjorie de Chastonay, president of FéGAPH. Aged 20, her autistic son is now studying privately, after being tossed from one system to another. “The projects do not go to the end. The inclusive school lacks financial means, trained staff and premises,” she laments.

“Inclusion from an early age has a cost, but it is an ethical investment. People gain in freedom and autonomy”, underlines the MP, while recalling that the specialized institutions also cost. The purpose of the bill is to prevent those who can from going to specialized education whose training is not recognized.

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