Support for students with disability cut off due to Covid-19 – CRPD

Updated 08:25 PM
St-Nicholas-Bahrija-school
Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Students with disability have seen services cut off due to coronavirus mitigations measures being taken by the schools, the Commissioner for the Rights of Persons with Disability Oliver Scicluna said in a statement on Wednesday.

Scicluna said that Covid-19 school measures cannot be provided at the expense of students with a disability or those requiring specific support.

It has been reported to the commission that a number of teachers who provide specific services, such as teachers for the visually and hearing impaired, early intervention services, as well as other important services being provided by National School Support Services (NSSS), will stop providing such services due to COVID-19 operational and logistical matters. 

These teachers will instead be assisting the mainstream cohort due to having classes split up into bubbles which therefore require more teachers.

“Whilst understanding and appreciating that the current situation requires extraordinary measures, it should not be at the detriment of students with a disability or those requiring specific support,” Scicluna said.

He underlined that such services cannot be viewed as secondary services but as essential mechanisms for particular students.

The commission has called on the authorities to re-evaluate the situation to provide the necessary support to all of its students, reminding that it is their right.

Teachers providing such services should not be used to mitigate teacher shortage within mainstream schools, the commissioner said.

The commission is committed to rendering Maltese society an inclusive one, in a way that persons with disability reach their full potential in all aspects of life, enjoying a high quality of life thanks to equal opportunities, Scicluna said.

In fulfilling this mission, CRPD works in order to eliminate any form of direct or indirect social discrimination against persons with disability and their families while providing them with the necessary assistance and support.

In his comment to Newsbook.com.mt, Education Minister Owen Bonnici said that “After the Ministry sees that all the classes have teachers, an evaluation of the all services offered will be done to ensure that students continue to be provided with all the services. This will be done in the coming days according to the protocol and advice of the health authorities. We opened the schools first with educators, today with the students, and in the coming days with the necessary services to the students.”

The Minister’s comment was added to the article at 8.15pm upon arrival.

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