The Malta Independent 3 March 2024, Sunday
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Organisation troubled by escalating segregation in education of children on autistic spectrum

Wednesday, 7 February 2024, 14:17 Last update: about 24 days ago

MaltaCAN, a voluntary organisation made up of 14 independent organisations advocating the promotion and support of children's rights, said that it is "deeply troubled by the escalating segregation of children on the autism spectrum in Malta".

 MaltaCAN had made an urgent appeal to education authorities, policymakers, stakeholders, and unions to reconsider current practices and policies contributing to the segregation of children on the autism spectrum.

"There is a disturbing trend of pushing children on the autism spectrum away from mainstream education, limiting their opportunities for inclusive learning experiences," MaltaCAN said in a statement.

The organisation, which advocates for collaborative efforts to create an inclusive educational environment that embraces diversity and ensures equal opportunities for all students, believes certain actions by unions coupled with school policies are exacerbating the problem.

Directives that restrict learning support educators from working with specific students target vulnerable individuals, effectively pushing them out of the school system, it said.

"This is a serious concern when taking into consideration the 180 pending applications from students who are currently waiting for a learning support educator," it said.

It added that the lack of data and research into the current situation underscored the urgency of addressing the issue promptly to ensure the right to education for every child.

MaltaCAN has also been made aware that several children on the spectrum were currently not attending school or were being actively pushed out of their school, it said.

It said it is speaking out after receiving several reports from parents and encountering these problems firsthand. "Parents of children on the autistic spectrum also spoke in the media this week, highlighting the lack of resources and training across schools."

The Malta Independent on Sunday had reported on such a situation, where parents of children who attend the San Ġorg Preca College Guardian Angel Resource Centre in Hamrun had raised concerns about the resources available at the centre which caters for children with severe learning difficulties. 

MaltaCAN emphasised the fundamental importance of every child's right to a quality education, citing Article 28 of the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child, and pointed out that inclusive education not only benefitted children with disabilities but enriched the  educational experience for all students, fostering understanding and acceptance.

The organisations forming part of MaltaCAN are: The Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society; Fondazzjoni Sebħ; Karl Vella Foundation; Malta Church Schools Children's Fund; Malta Dyslexia Association; Malta Girl Guides; MGRM; National Foster Care Association Malta (NFCAM); Early Childhood Development Association Malta (EDCAM); Salesians of Don Bosco; The Malta Trust Foundation; National Parents Society of Persons with Disability (NPSPD); Malta Association of Play Therapists (MAPT); Happy Parenting 


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