A recent outcry from parents of disabled children has re-enforced the terrible reality that once school education concludes, the battle gets that much harder and that much more unfair.
The Ministry of Education may claim to have the correct systems for a successful transition out of school and into tertiary education or employment in place. The current system of transition, or lack thereof, simply isn’t working for the majority of disabled New Zealanders in education. Just giving the families information isn’t enough, it should be the job of the Ministry to ensure that outcomes are being met, because if not, how is the system truly inclusive as a whole?
Nobody should be forced to stay at school until they are 21 years old. Having to do so is disabling, and the future implications are dire. All this fails to mention that is also NOT inclusive at all.
Employers will look at the time a person spent in school, and many won’t distinguish the difference that a disability plays in that. Parents of disabled children are being forced to do a major disservice, but in a lot of cases it still remains the only viable option they have.
The choice doesn’t enable independence at all; however the alternative is just as unfair. That alternative would see the disabled person sit at home each day, or they’d attend vocational services that do nothing to enhance their future prospects for employment, or a meaningful social life for that matter.
The real problem here isn’t the Ministry, or even a lot of the schools for that matter. The issue is the same that it has always been, once the child turns 18 there is next to no support for them. There is too much focus on the child and not the adult, but it’s when someone becomes an adult that the need for equal education and fair opportunities at employment become that much greater.
This is clearly an ongoing discussion and one that isn’t new to anyone. Better systems need to be put in place and a greater amount of accountability must occur. If this doesn’t happen, disabled people will continue to fall through the cracks of the education system.