On 12 August, the European Network on Independent Living and the Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE), from the UK, submitted written comments to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), in the case of M.C. and others. v. Romania. ENIL and ALLFIE decided to intervene in the case to help the European Court understand that all children with disabilities have a right to inclusive education and what is needed for the States to translate this right into practice. Our submission focused on the supports and policies needed to make inclusive education a reality, rather than international law and standards.

The case of M.C. and others. v. Romania concerns a disabled child subjected to bullying and abuse by teachers and other pupils at the mainstream school he attended in Romania. Rather than providing him with the support required to be fully included in learning and other school activities, the school effectively forced his parents to take him out of the school. The civil proceedings that followed at the national level failed to protect and promote his right to education, and reinforced the negative stereotypes about children with disabilities and their place in mainstream education, and the society in general.

In our written comments, we outlined the types of support and adaptations that are required to ensure that children with additional social, emotional and mental health needs, and other support needs, can be fully included in learning and other school activities, in mainstream settings. Furthermore, we briefly explained provisions in law and policies that are needed to ensure that children with disabilities are able to attend mainstream schools alongside their peers, illustrated with examples of good practice in implementing Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The submission relies heavily of ALLFIE’s experience in advocating for inclusive education in England and abroad, and their learning over the years of what is necessary to ensure that all children are fully included and able to enjoy their right to education. The case of M.C and others v. Romania is significant not just for the persons involved, but for children with disabilities across Europe, who are still systematically denied access to education and excluded from mainstream schools.

Read our submission here.