Why some students with disabilities were unable to return to school

On September 1, some children with disabilities did not have the chance to return to school. However, inclusive education has made progress in recent years in France. According to figures from the Ministry of Education, at the start of the 2022 school year, 430,000 children with disabilities will be educated in ordinary schools (+ 25% in five years) and 67,000 in specialized schools.

Despite these advances, too many children still find themselves without a schooling solution, as Claire Hédon, the Defender of Rights, recently pointed out. His report reveals that in 2021, 20% of referrals made to it in the field of children’s rights concerned difficulties in accessing education for children with disabilities. Hence his insistence on denouncing “the growing number of children whose needs are very largely not or badly covered”.

A crying lack of AESH

For its part, Unapei (which brings together associations specializing in intellectual, cognitive and multiple disabilities) revealed in August that out of 8,000 children it supports, 18% had no schooling hours per week in 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 Garcia, president of the Association for adults and young people with disabilities (Apajh), “multi-handicapped or autistic children are those who encounter the greatest difficulties in schooling. And the situation is more complex in secondary education than in primary education”. These breaks in schooling can be more or less long, notes Sonia Ahehehinnou, the vice-president of Unapei: “Deschooling can last for weeks, months or years. »

One of the first obstacles is linked to the lack of Accompanying Students with Disabilities (AESH). Admittedly, the Departmental Centers for the Disabled (MDPH) allocate a number of hours of weekly support to disabled students. But “in the face of a number of AESH notifications [les heures attribuées] constantly increasing, many remain a dead letter, ”underlines the Defender of Rights. In his Annual Report, the mediator of National Education also declared to have “still received 112 complaints in 2021 concerning difficulties relating to the support of students by AESH”. And a few days after the start of the school year, Jean-Louis Garcia already has echoes “of children and adolescents who still do not have the name of their AESH”. This forces some to stay at home while waiting.

Not enough places in IME

The situation is very different from one region to another. “In the academy of Amiens, there are 17 AESH missing for this start of the school year”, reports Alexis Trochet, national secretary of the Sgen-CFDT. “In the Rhône, 400 students are not accompanied”, also reveals the SNUipp in a press release. There are several reasons for this: “The powers of AESH are not applied for lack of financial and human resources”, sums up the Defender of Rights. “There is a recruitment crisis because of very low salaries”, adds Jean-Louis Garcia. AESH are generally offered 24-hour contracts per week and receive around 800 euros per month. And even if the government has announced the recruitment of 4,000 additional AESH and that their number has increased by 35% over five years, the account is not there.

Other children cannot be accommodated in a medical-educational institute (IME), “for lack of space in these adapted structures”, indicates Sonia Ahehehinnou, of Unapei. “The waiting lists in some IMEs, like those at 93, are very long,” says Jean-Louis Garcia.

“It’s a loss of chance for the child”

The fact of being deprived of school will obviously have serious repercussions in the life of the child: “The further away we go from school, the more he risks developing behavioral problems and then being directed towards a specialized establishment”, emphasizes Sonia Ahehehinnou. “It’s a waste of luck,” adds Jean-Louis Garcia. Very often, parents have to experiment with school at home, even if it means reorganizing their lives: “The consequences on their professional, family and economic life are heavy”, underlines Sonia Ahehehinnou.

In order to limit the breakage, the associations support the families to try to unblock these situations. “We meet with academy inspectors and ministerial advisers,” explains Jean-Louis Garcia. Unapei for its part relaunched for the fourth year its #Jaipasecole campaign and the platform www.marentree.org, which collects the testimonies of the families concerned. As for the government, it offers a single green number (0.805.805.110) to help families. But for the Defender of Rights, it is necessary to no longer act in reaction, but in anticipation. “I regret that the reception of children with disabilities at school is too often tinkered with,” she says. One more challenge for Pap Ndiaye.

Why some students with disabilities were unable to return to school