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Why are some students with disabilities still excluded from school

On September 1, some children with disabilities did not have the opportunity to return to school. However, inclusive education has seen progress in France in recent years. According to data from the Ministry of Education, at the beginning of the 2022 school year, 430,000 children with disabilities will be educated in regular schools (+ 25% in five years) and 67,000 in specialized schools.

Despite these advances, too many children still find themselves without a school solution, as human rights defender Claire Hédon recently pointed out. Her report reveals that in 2021, 20% of the referrals she received in the field of children’s rights related to issues of access to education for children with disabilities. Hence his insistence on denouncing “the growing number of children whose needs are largely unmet or poorly met.”

Crying shortage of AESH

Unapei (which brings together associations specializing in intellectual, cognitive and multiple disabilities) revealed in August that of the 8,000 children it supports, 18% had no lessons a week in a year. most recently 33% between 0 and 6 hours, 22% between 6 and 12 hours and only 27% at least 12 hours. According to Jean-Louis Garcia, president of the Association for Adults and Young People with Disabilities (Apajh), “multi-disabled or autistic children are the ones who encounter the greatest problems in school attendance. And the situation is more complicated in secondary education than in primary education”. These breaks in schooling can be more or less long, notes Sonia Ahehehinnou, Vice President of Unapei: “Disenrollment can last weeks, months or years. »

One of the first obstacles is connected with the lack of accompanying students with disabilities (AESH). It is true that Departmental Disability Centers (MDPH) allocate several hours of weekly support to students with disabilities. But “in the face of a number of warnings from AESH [les heures attribuées] is constantly increasing, many remain a dead letter, “underlines the rights defender. The National Education Ombudsman also said in its annual report that “in 2021, it still received 112 complaints about issues related to AESH’s student support”. And a few days after the start of the school year, Jean-Louis Garcia already has echoes of “children and teenagers who still don’t have the name of their AESH”. This forces some to stay at home while waiting.

Lack of spaces in the IME editor

The situation is very different in individual regions. “The Amiens Academy is missing 17 AESH for the start of this school year,” reports Alexis Trochet, national secretary of Sgen-CFDT. “In Rhône, 400 students are not accompanied”, SNUipp also states in a press release. There are several reasons: “AESH’s powers are not exercised due to a lack of financial and human resources,” summarizes the rights defender. “There is a recruitment crisis due to very low salaries,” adds Jean-Louis Garcia. AESHs generally offer 24-hour contracts per week and receive around €800 per month. And even though the government has announced the recruitment of 4,000 more AESH and their numbers have increased by 35% in five years, the bill is not there.

Other children cannot be placed in a medical and educational institution (IME) “because of the lack of space in these adapted structures”, says Sonia Ahehehinnou of Unapei. “The waiting lists in some IMEs, like in 93, are very long,” says Jean-Louis Garcia.

“It’s a loss of chance for the child”

The fact that he misses school will of course have serious consequences in the child’s life: “The further we move away from school, the more he risks developing behavioral problems and then being directed to a specialized facility”, emphasizes Sonia Ahehehinnou. “It’s a shame,” adds Jean-Louis Garcia. Very often, parents have to experiment with school at home, even if it means reorganizing their lives: “The consequences for their professional, family and economic life are difficult,” emphasizes Sonia Ahehehinnou.

To limit breakage, associations support families to try to unblock these situations. “We meet with academy inspectors and ministerial advisors,” explains Jean-Louis Garcia. As for Unapei, it has relaunched its #Jaipasecole campaign for the fourth year and the www.marentree.org platform that collects testimonies from affected families. As for the government, it offers one toll-free number (0.805.805.110) to help families. But for the defender of rights, it is necessary to act not in reaction, but in anticipation. “I am sorry that the acceptance of children with disabilities in school is too often manipulated,” he says. Another challenge for Papa Ndiaye.

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