Complaint against Education minister on discriminating statement about children with learning difficulties

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A NGO fighting for the rights of disabled children, the European Centre for the Rights of Disabled Children (CNCD), has filed a complaint against Education minister Ecaterina Andronescu to the National Council for Combating Discrimination for her recent statement on children facing learning difficulties.

Mădălina Turza, the NGO president, has announced that, „considering the Education minister’s extremely dangerous public statements and the reflection of some discriminating public policies, regardless of the later edits”, she has filed a complaint to the CNCD.

The proposal to divide the children with learning difficulties in a certain place is discriminating and segregated, as it reflects the minister’s conviction that, starting from the disability criteria, pupils cannot learn in the same classroom with other colleagues who don’t have any disabilities,” says Mădălina Turza.

According to the NGO, 29,433 out of those 70,000 disabled children in Romania are isolated in special schools, meaning almost 50% of them and with only 1,385 support teachers countrywide.

„With one support teacher for 150 disabled children in the country we won’t manage to raise up to the minimum standard for the disabled children’s inclusion. The curriculum is not adjusted, there are no assisting technologies and supports and the teacher have not benefited of the needed training to take care of these children. Parents are spending from EUR 4,000 to EUR 18,000 every year for their disabled children’s therapies and the salaries of these private support teachers and those who cannot afford these expenses remain isolated,” the NGO manager further explained, while adding that 93% of the general welfare and child protection services in those 42 counties in Romania have reported the lack of services for early intervention in the case of disabled children.

Initially, Education Minister stated few days ago that pupils with learning difficulties are now either integrated in special schools, or in the normal education system, but they have no dedicated teachers and therefore, there would be an option to establish separate classrooms for these children.

Following a wave of criticism in the public opinion, Andronescu issued a retraction on the initial statement, explaining that, actually, her proposal was that these pupils should be additionally helped by the supporting teachers and that she had meant no segregation against them in separate classrooms.

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