IHC New Zealand, along with 65 education and disability sector organisations, are calling on New Zealand’s politicians to get on with it and -build a public education system that works for disabled and neurodiverse learners.
IHC Inclusive Education Lead Trish Grant says the harm that has been caused by a broken system is undeniable.
“The last 10 years have seen a groundswell of shared agreement about the failures of the current education system to respond to disabled and neurodiverse learners,” says Trish. “Learners, whānau and educators have been negatively impacted by a flawed system that embeds unfairness, discrimination and ableism.”
“There is now new evidence, new coalitions of interest and action and united calls for fundamental change to New Zealand’s public education system so that it works for all.
“Many learners in New Zealand are still being turned away from schools and early childhood settings, sent home when teacher aides aren’t available, left to do other tasks in the corner instead of learning with their peers and are often excluded from the fun stuff – camp, excursions, social events and extra-curricular activities.
“The negative impact of the flawed system extends to our nation’s levels of social cohesion and limits the ability of all citizens to contribute to social and economic prosperity.”
IHC has, in the past, felt like a lone voice in our advocacy for an education system that works for disabled learners. Trish says those efforts have built on the kaupapa of our founding whānau who knew 75 years ago that access to education for disabled children was the foundation for a life of inclusion in the community.
“In 2023, there is now a strong collective voice calling for the changes IHC agrees are required for a public education system to work for ALL learners,” says Trish. “The movement for change spans education, disability and children’s sector organisations and is unstoppable.”
“ALL are in agreement that the harm needs to stop and that sustained commitment is required from all political parties to build a public education system that works for ALL disabled and neurodiverse learners.
“What is new is that there is agreement from Government ministers, politicians and government agencies about the failures of the current system and the urgent need for a fundamental shift to ensure ALL learners have great access to, through and from our education system.
“Teacher and principal unions and their allied organisations are emphatic that teachers don’t have the capacity or resources to do their best by learners who require different approaches.
“The Minister of Education herself has admitted the system is broken, and the Education Review Office has said that disabled learners are let down time and time again by the system.
“We have been talking about this for decades. It’s time to stop talking and get on with it.”