Student with special needs discriminated against, equality advocate says

Ljubljana – The Advocate of the Principle of Equality has found that the Education Ministry has violated a ban on discrimination by not awarding a student with special needs an assistant for the period of home schooling. Students with special needs are entitled to an assistant also while they are being home schooled, the institution noted on Tuesday.

The student with disability in question had been awarded an assistant by the education institution she attends and the Education Ministry to help her physically during classes.

However, the ministry did not enable her to use the assistant’s services also while she was being home schooled due to the risk of respiratory infection.

The ministry told the Advocate of the Principle of Equality it had found no legal basis for this.

Yet the institution refuted this, saying that the law and regulations on children with special needs did not say that a child with special needs was eligible for assistance exclusively at the education institution.

The relevant law and regulations say that the child is eligible for assistance during the period of their education.

Since the student was confined to home schooling due to her medical condition and disability while other students went to school she was worse off then them, although the ministry had confirmed that in her case having an assistant was crucial for successful education.

The Advocate of the Principle of Equality stressed this was a severe case of discrimination because it affected a child and their right to education, which is a fundamental constitutional right.

The institution also noted that under the equalisation of opportunities for persons with disabilities act, children with special needs had the right to certain adjustments in the inclusion into education and to adjustments of the education process.

In line with international conventions on children’s rights, the state is obligated to take active measures to neutralise the obstacles that children with special needs may face while exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms, the advocate said.