Ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Disabled postponed until the end of 2010?

A meeting of the Council of the President on the Disabled, conducted by Sergei Naryshkin, head of the Presidential Administration, was held in the Kremlin. According to Oleg Smolin, a member of the Council and vice-president of the All-Russian Society of the Blind (VOS) the main topic of this second meeting in 2009 was the problem of education for the disabled.  Although most of the tasks of the Russian government in this area, as instructed by Dmitry Medvedev at the meeting last April, had been implemented or were being carried out, ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Disabled would only be possible towards the end of 2010. The vice-president of VOS was certain this was an intolerably long period. The civil servants were working on this extremely slowly and some instructions from the President were not being implemented at all.  In his view, ratification of this international document should not be delayed because of the lack of readiness of Russia to meet its obligations on the rights of the disabled. On the contrary, the Convention would help bring Russia into line with international standards.

Valeryi Rukhledev, president of the All-Russian Society of the Deaf (VOG), who heads the committee of the Council for Education and Sociocultural Activity for the Disabled, reported on the current state of teaching for the disabled. He stated to colleagues that the quality of education of the disabled “leaves much to be desired”. Having abolished the system of special education, the Ministry of Education and Science had not created anything more effective in its place.  In his opinion,  integration of the disabled into the general educational establishments without developing an accessible environment and new educational programmes and teaching methods, and with no preparation of specialist teachers or review of their pay, would not help to fulfil the rights of the disabled to education and would make their teaching difficult. The VOG president on behalf of his committee recommended that the Ministry of Education and Science should hold a special conference devoted to the quality of education for the disabled involving representatives from NGOs and experts.

In turn the Education Minister, Andrei Fursenko, spoke out in favour of keeping the system of specialised training establishments together with the development of inclusive education.  O. Smolin, the VOS vice-president, was in agreement with the minister on this question and called for the acceptance as soon as possible of a federal law regulating the teaching of invalid children. The proposal of the Education Minister to introduce a paragraph on education for the disabled into the draft of a new law on education planned for the coming years did not find favour with the members of the council.  O. Smolin proposed either the introduction of amendments to the existing legislative act or acceptance of a separate law following the example of many western countries as soon as possible.





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