Do national laws matter? IPWSO President Tony Holland writes about the importance of education and of enshrining a right to education in national laws.

At a recent Leadership ECHO® meeting the focus was on the provision of education for children with PWS.

After the presentation by Larry Genstil we had two ‘challenges’ for the group to consider, one from Hungary and one from Columbia. Both of these challenges were concerned with ensuring that children with PWS received a proper education in school and how to prevent exclusion from school because of problem behaviour.

Larry’s talk had been about how to prepare schools and teachers to support a child with PWS, but what if the child with PWS was denied access to school or was excluded.

The right to education is central but not the whole answer.

There are UN conventions, most recently the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UN CPRD), that are clear – children have a right to education and countries have a duty to ensure that education is available to all

Having national laws stating this is essential as these laws establish the right, however, the questions that follow are:

  • How should the special needs of people with disabilities in general and PWS specifically be met?
  • The second question is: What to do when a school placement breaks down?

I would argue that without a right to education enshrined in the laws of your country there will always be the argument that he/she is too difficult to educate in school.

The right to education is central but once that is established then the work really begins. It was a very interesting discussion.