Ombudsman: Hungary not living up to constitutional obligations in providing education for disabled children

July 4, 2017

Hungary’s ombudsman has determined that the government does not currently fulfill its own constitutional obligations, nor those required by international treaty, concerning the provision of adequate and accessible education for seriously disabled students, reports.

Ombudsman László Székely’s review came after he was contacted by a civil rights group which had received numerous complaints from parents that their disabled children had been excluded from the public education system due to lacking personal and material conditions.

Székely declared that in addition to providing basic information, knowledge and regulation to disabled students, a review of their personal and material conditions is also necessary in order to improve education for this vulnerable group.

According to Hungary’s public education law, which Székely cites in his report, the state has a constitutional obligation to provide equal-access, non-discriminatory, inclusive educational opportunities to all Hungarian children, something it is failing to do for disabled students. The report also points out that the number of severely disabled students in Hungary is unknown due to an inadequate system of diagnosis which would ensure accessible educational opportunities for them. Székely added that without knowing how many such students exist, it is impossible to create an institutional system which could provide adequate space and resources for them.

Additionally, the report finds that inadequate higher educational opportunities exist for those who would like to pursue careers in special education.

Székely also notes that according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), of which Hungary is a signatory, children with disabilities have a right to individually tailored, inclusive education. The shortcomings identified in the report breach students’ rights to equal treatment, and are incompatible with the UNCRC treaty. He requested Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog take all necessary steps to ensure the fair, equal and legally required provision of educational opportunities for students with severe disabilities.