San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Report Highlights Problems In Education for the Disabled

Across the globe, many governments are not ensuring their disabled citizens have access to quality education – and with 120-150 million disabled children worldwide, and 80-90% of those children living in poverty in developing countries, that’s a problem the developing world can’t ignore.

That’s the message Vernor Muñoz, the U.N. Rapporteur on Educational Rights, brought to Costa Rican officials and other listeners Tuesday when he presented his report, “Educational Rights of People with Disabilities,” in San José.

Muñoz, himself a Costa Rican and also an employee of the Ombudsman’s Office, emphasized that he is not an expert in Costa Rica’s efforts in this area, but said the country has a long way to go on this issue.

“What Costa Rica has is a very serious implementation problem,” he told The Tico Times. “We have very good laws and very poor practices.”

A top priority for education for special-needs students here include better teacher training, according to Muñoz. He said that “inclusive education,” where students join mainstream classes with additional support – rather than “special education,” which often implies separating disabled students into their own classes –should be the goal.

According to the study, net enrollment in primary education in the developing world has increased to 86%, but the number of disabled children attending school in those nations ranges from only 1-5%.

“This is because there aren’t public policies that show interest in improving these (students’) situation,”Muñoz said.


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