Working to remove barriers in the education system
For several decades, the various Lebenshilfe organisations in Germany have successfully worked for the education of people with disabilities. While Lebenshilfe has been fighting for the learning capabilities of people with a mental disability to be recognised for more than a decade now, in other words long before the ratification of Article 25 of the UN Convention, there is now also an increasing focus on the subject of inclusive education in political lobbying. With our main mission being “One School for All”, in 2011 the Landesverband Lebenshilfe began a campaign for a lifelong inclusive education system that continues to this day.
Two key demands made by Lebenshilfe in Hesse are that everyone should have access to an inclusive education system and that they should receive the necessary support for this. Offers with different objectives in shared learning situations and easy access to the general education system close to where people live are two further demands to ensure the education system in Germany meets human rights requirements.
Realisation of a human right should not just be a utopian vision
In order to create an inclusive education culture, we have engaged in the following areas with our members and their institutions in recent years:
- we celebrated our 50th anniversary (2015) with several events around the subject of inclusive education. Alongside the central commemorative event in lectures, theatre performances and an art exhibition we showed how inclusive education succeeds. We complemented these events in a series of lectures entitled “Education: All In. The Goal. The Way” and in a reading in easy language. We have outlined our position in the paper “A Right to Inclusive Education”, which is also available in easy language
- as a member of the “inclusion and individual support” working group, during the education summit of the state government of Hesse (2014/2015) we advocated that local inclusive education of people with a mental disability should become routine. In working groups on the action plan for implementation of the UN CRPD in Hesse, we have advocated the removal of barriers, including in the education system
- we were greatly involved in the development, discussion and adoption of the Lebenshilfe federal association’s paper on the principle of inclusive schooling and school assistance (2015) and supported its dissemination and implementation (2016). Over and above this we have discussed the issue of school support with other state associations since 2015
- as the outcome of discussions within the association, we published the “One School for All” paper (2011) agreed at our general meeting and our position on the education act in Hesse and the decree on special educational needs
- in our annual discussion on social policy with members of the state government and council members, we continue to present excellent arguments in favour of an inclusive education system
- as an umbrella association we support the endeavours of local Lebenshilfe organisations who are involved as inclusive providers of education and who run successful, award-winning schools (Gießen, Hanau, Wetterau, Wetzlar). In particular the satisfaction of learners themselves and their successes in an education concept geared towards recognition, esteem, solidarity and individual promotion demonstrate that inclusive education benefits everyone
- our specialist advisors on access and the law help people with cognitive disabilities and their families participate in inclusive education
- the Vocational College of Social Welfare and the training department of the Landesverband Lebenshilfe in Hesse enable full-time specialists and managers, volunteers and self-advocates to design inclusive communities and consequently an inclusive education system as well.