On September 1, some children with disabilities did not have the opportunity to return to school. However, inclusive education has made progress in recent years in France. According to data from the Ministry of Education, at the beginning of the academic year 2022, 430,000 children with disabilities will be educated in ordinary schools (+ 25% in five years) and 67,000 in specialized schools.
Despite this progress, too many children still find themselves without a school solution, as rights advocate Claire Hedden recently pointed out. Her report revealed that in 2021, 20% of the references she received in the field of children’s rights related to difficulties in accessing education for children with disabilities. Hence his insistence on decrying “the growing number of children whose needs are largely unmet or poorly addressed.”
Lamenting lack of AESH
For its part, Unapei (which brings together associations specializing in intellectual, cognitive and multiple disabilities) revealed in August that of the 8,000 children it supports, 18% had no school hours per week during the year. Last, 33% between 0 and 6 hours, 22% between 6 and 12 hours and only 27% at least 12 hours. According to Jean-Louis García, president of the Association of Adults and Young People with Disabilities (Apajh), “children with multiple disabilities or children with autism are the ones who have the greatest difficulties in school. And in secondary education, the situation is more complicated than in primary education”. These breaks in school can be more or less long, notes Sonia Ahehehinnou, Vice President of Unapei: “Droping out of school can last weeks, months or years. »
One of the first obstacles is related to the lack of accompanying students with disabilities (AESH). It is true that individual Disability Centers (MDPH) allocate a certain number of hours of weekly support to students with disabilities. But “in the face of a number of AESH notifications [les heures attribuées] are constantly increasing, many remain a dead letter,” emphasizes the rights defender. In its annual report, the national education ombudsman also declared that it “still received 112 complaints in 2021 about difficulties in supporting AESH pupils”. And a few days after the start of the school year, Jean-Luis García already has an echo “of children and adolescents who still do not have the name of their AESH”. This forces some to stay at home while they wait.
There are not enough spaces in the IME
The situation is very different from one region to another. “The Amiens Academy is missing 17 AESH for this start of the academic year,” reports Alexis Trochet, National Secretary of Sgen-CFDT. “In Rhône, 400 students are unaccompanied,” SNUipp also revealed in a press release. There are several reasons for this: “The powers of the AESH are not implemented due to a lack of financial and human resources,” summarizes the rights defender. “There is a recruitment crisis due to very low wages,” adds Jean-Louis García. AESHs are usually given 24-hour contracts per week and receive around €800 per month. And even if the government has announced the recruitment of 4,000 additional AESH and that their numbers have increased by 35% in five years, the bill is not there.
Other children cannot be accommodated in an Institute of Medical Education (IME) “due to a lack of space in these adapted structures,” points out Sonia Ahehehinu of Unapei. “The waiting lists in some IMEs, like that of 93, are very long,” says Jean-Louis García.
“It’s a waste of a chance for the child”
The fact that he is deprived of school will obviously have serious consequences in a child’s life: “The more we move away from school, the more he risks developing behavioral problems and then being referred to a specialized institution,” emphasizes Sonia Ahehehinu. “It’s a waste of luck,” adds Jean-Louis Garcia. Very often, parents have to experiment with schooling at home, even if it means reorganizing their lives: “The consequences on their professional, family and economic life are severe,” emphasizes Sonia Ahehehinu.
To limit the breakdown, associations support families to try to unblock these situations. “We meet with academy inspectors and ministerial advisers,” explains Jean-Louis García. For its part, Unapei has relaunched its #Jaipasecole campaign for the fourth year and the www.marentree.org platform that collects testimonies from affected families. As for the government, it offers one toll-free number (0.805.805.110) to help families. But for the Defender of Rights it is necessary no longer to act in reaction, but in anticipation. “I’m sorry that the acceptance of children with disabilities in school is too often tinkered with,” she says. Another challenge for Pap Ndiaye.