No doubt that education remains the powerful tool that can be used to empower humanity. Education not only enables participation in the socio-economic and political development of a country, but also it is a means of livelihood. Furthermore, learning institutions have become centers of interaction and socialization among learners. Ontario Human Right Commission has observed that despite the existence of policy frameworks addressing special needs education, learners with disabilities continued to experience severe obstacles in their desire to exploit their potentials (Segeren and Kutyuruba 10). Therefore, many disabled learners struggle in pursuit of educational endeavors. Although there are many laws in support of special needs education, denial of these special rights is still a disturbing issue.
Special needs individuals are denied special attention in education. As a result they become incompetent in the job market. For instance, according to Bunch pp.2 college graduates with disabilities have been known to get low academic achievements. Therefore, their lower qualifications decreases their employability causing diminished family incomes for their families. Conversely, the college graduates who did not have disabilities had a better chance since the normal educational system is suited for them. Thus, they had an upper hand over the special needs graduates since they had more skills and competence areas.
Similarly, at college levels, learners without disabilities enjoyed more privileges as compared to students with disabilities. For example, learners with disabilities would be denied disability related accommodations, such as housing. Suffice it to say that these learners were also subjected to inappropriate requests for their medical information. Making the process of accessing medical assistant difficult. Special needs education department were also grossly underfunded. No wonder this kind of predisposition, made student with disabilities to conclude that the government and the state department of social services were streamlined not to serve their interests. Amidst these glaring inequalities, legislative statutes supporting special needs education in Ontario abound. For example, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act guarantees equal opportunities and inclusion for persons with disabilities throughout the sectors of the economy. Furthermore, the act forbids all forms of discrimination and harassment to persons with disabilities (Segeren and Kutyuruba, 11). Unfortunately, the contents of this critical Act seem to be disregarded by those in authority.
Another critical Act developed by United Nations to safeguard the rights and interests of persons with disabilities; is the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (ibid). The charter postulates that all persons with disabilities are entitled to enjoyment of all human rights. The act also recognizes that persons with disabilities are entitled to right to education. The enjoyment of this right should be devoid of discrimination and should be on the basis of equal opportunities for all.
Despite the existence of these legal frameworks and other education policy documents on unlimited access to quality education by learners with disabilities, scholarly studies continue to document various discriminations to learners with disabilities. This has severely destroyed the self-esteem of these learners. Forms of discriminations to learners with disability prevalent in Ontario include harassment characterized by bullying and name calling with an aim of demeaning persons with disability. Occasionally, private schools have also been known to deny learners with disabilities admissions especially if the cost of maintaining them in campus is high (Sue and Stephanie 140). This is in contrast to learners without disabilities. Similarly, scholarships are given with a bias to students without disabilities.
It is apparent that despite the existence of these legal frameworks, much is needed to be done if at all persons with disabilities are to enjoy the guaranteed human right to education. It appears systemic failure contributes immensely to this inequality in provision of quality education to learners with disabilities. In conclusion, it is imperative that special needs education must reflect inclusion, identity, norms and values that espouse equality. If this cannot take place, then it is clear going forward that, the special needs graduates will harbor feelings of mistrust, neglect and exclusion from the state systems and the society at large.
Bunch, G.”Manuscript in Preparation- Teacher preparation for Education.” 2014, pp. 1-3.
Sue, W. and Stephanie, T. “Constructing Bullying in Ontario, Canada: A critical Policy Analysis.”2015. Educational studies 41 (1-2), pp. 122-142.
Segeren, A. and Kutyuruba, B. “Twenty Years and Counting: An Examination of the development of Equity and Inclusive education policy in Ontario (1990-2010).” Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 2012, pp. 10-13.