Parents of students with hearing disabilities call for ensuring their children's right to inclusive education

11 August 2020

A group of parents of children with hearing disabilities and representatives of human rights organisations report discrimination against these children in school.

A group of parents of children with hearing disabilities and representatives of human rights organisations are reporting discrimination against these children in school. Because they don't have access to sign language education, hearing-impaired pupils drop out of school. Although we have good laws on educational inclusion for children with such disabilities, they are not enforced, say human rights experts. Dropped out of school because he was not understood The Secrieru family from the village of Ivanovca, Hincesti district, has eight children, three of whom have hearing disabilities. The daughter has already graduated from the specialized boarding school in Cahul municipality, one of the boys is studying in the same educational institution, and the third hearing-impaired child attended the village gymnasium last year. But just three weeks after enrolment, the boy dropped out. The children's mother says the boy was placed in a regular class and the teachers don't know sign language to communicate with him. The boy was not understood by anyone, which is why he was traumatised, says Liuba Secrieru. She wants to enrol her son in a boarding school in Cahul, but this specialised institution, like the one in the village of Hârbovăț, Călărași district, is to be closed down and the children will be forced to attend schools in their home towns. "The older boy knows how to read and write because he learned in Cahul, and the younger one only communicates with signs. He needs to go to a school where he can be understood by other children and teachers," says Liuba Secrieru. Other families with hearing-impaired children have the same problem. Recently, several parents protested outside the government, demanding conditions for inclusive education from the authorities. They complained that special schools in Cahul and Hârbovăț are to be closed and that there are no support teachers in general schools who know sign language. Laws only on paper? Vitalie Meșter, executive director of the Centre for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CDPD), says Moldova has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted the Law on Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, and the Education Code has been amended so that all children are equal in the education process. However, these legal provisions are not respected and the lack of specialists in the field affects children with hearing disabilities and their families. After the protest in front of the Executive, the CDPC and the Association of the Deaf of Moldova called on the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research (MECC) to ensure the teaching of sign language for every child with hearing disabilities (deaf or hard of hearing), by introducing the subject "Sign language (mime-gesture language)" into the school curriculum, as well as the use of this language in the educational process of children with hearing disabilities. For his part, Valentin Crudu, head of the General Education Directorate of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research, said that the specialised educational institutions in Cahul and Harbovats do not provide pupils with quality education, because not all the specialists there know sign language, although they are specialised secondary schools. The official acknowledges that in our country there is a shortage of qualified specialists who know the mime-gesture language and says that the Ministry, together with relevant NGOs, will develop an action plan to ensure the right of children with hearing disabilities to inclusive education. According to data from the Ministry of Education, more than 180 hearing-impaired children attend early education institutions (kindergartens), general education institutions and two special education institutions in Cahul municipality and Calarasi district. The Republic of Moldova ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 9 July 2010. According to the Convention, States Parties recognise the right of persons with disabilities to education: "Persons with disabilities have access to inclusive, quality and free primary education and secondary education on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live," the document states. Have your fundamental rights and freedoms been violated? Call the free "Hotline" 080080030 from landlines or mobile phones and we will help you to be heard and refer you to the relevant public institutions. Lilia Zaharia