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Monday, 28 September 2015 09:34

Catholic education for students with disability dates back to 19th century

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ncec brochure cvrCatholic religious orders were providing educational opportunities for students with disability as far back as the 1870s and Catholic education remains firmly committed to the education of students with disability, a Senate committee was told last week.

National Catholic Education Commission executive director Ross Fox, along with representatives of the Catholic Education Commission NSW and Catholic Education Melbourne, gave evidence on September 18 to members of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment.

Mr Fox told the hearing that Catholic schools were founded in Australia to provide the disadvantaged and excluded with the opportunities education creates, referring to the Dominican Sisters’ establishment of an Institute for Girls with a Hearing Impairment in Newcastle in 1873 as one example.

Gravissimum Educationis, the Second Vatican Council’s document of education, says a cornerstone of Catholic education has been that “all children, in virtue of their dignity as human persons, have an inalienable right to education, adapted to their ability”.

Mr Fox told the hearing that the number of students with disability in Catholic schools has risen significantly in recent years, reaching 33,655 in 2014. That has seen the proportion of students with disability in Catholic schools increase from 0.2 per cent in 1985 to almost 4.5 per cent in 2014.

Consistent with the NCEC’s submission to the Senate Inquiry into the education of students with disability, the key issues raised with the committee were Catholic education’s support for a needs-based funding model for students with disability and the importance of school system autonomy in the distribution of funds to support students with disability.

(Photo shows the cover image from the NCEC Brochure)

This article was first published on 24 September 2015 in "This Week in Catholic Education", the weekly newsletter of the National Catholic Education Commission.