Rätt på Riktigt- school will work for all!

Anjali Haryana from Malmö mot Diskriminering talks to RWI for the project Rätt på Riktigt.

The project aims to give tools to parents and students for demanding the right support and adaptations in school. How does the self-help website contribute to achieving this goal, and what specific tools or resources will be available on the website to empower students and parents?

The project Rätt på Riktigt was initiated based on the number of parents and students who had contacted our organization, regarding the challenges they encounter when they try to get the proper support and adaptions for students with disabilities in school. Currently, many students are not getting their rights met in school. Therefore, the purpose of this project is to reach a larger number of students with disabilities and their parents (as well as legal guardians) and offer them help.

The project implements several different approaches to bring awareness to the rights students with disabilities have in school. One approach is to build a “self-help website” with the input of students, youth, parents, and nonprofit institutions. This website will offer information in different languages (including Swedish sign language) as well as film. We aim to make the site accessible for as many as possible. Its purpose is to empower youth, students, parents, and legal guardians and it will contain information such as:

– How to create constructive dialogue with the school.

– A student’s rights in school in terms of support and adaptions.

– How to report on discrimination.

– Pertinent legal information.

– How to file a complaint with the authorities.

– Actual legal cases

– How to contact relevant authorities and organizations.

– A variety of checklists

– How stress due to inaccessibility can affect both the student and parents and suggestions for self-care.

We wish to help parents and students understand what they can do on their own and who they can contact to get appropriate help and support.

The project also seeks redress for students who have faced discrimination due to lack of accessibility. Can you share examples of the rectification actions mentioned in the project, and how these actions play a role in addressing discrimination cases in schools?

The aim of the project is also to seek rectification for students with disabilities who have been discriminated against due to inadequate accessibility. The project works to explore different forms of rectification for students during all three years. It is done by looking at whether a school has fulfilled its obligations or not. The outcome of the information determines whether there are grounds for rectification. If there are grounds, then the rectification and strategy are planned with the student and parents (or legal guardians).

Rectification is not just about demanding justice for the student. It is also a strategy to convince principals and municipalities to take their responsibilities. Currently, rectification is demanded for four students in the form of financial compensation. These four cases are only the tip of the iceberg. Antidiscrimination bureaus all around Sweden as well as DO – diskrimineringombudsmannen has seen a steep increase in cases concerning schools’ inaccessibility for children with disabilities.

The compensation claims have been made based on decisions from Skolväsendets överklagandenämnd (the Board of Appeal for Education) which has found that each of the four schools failed to comply with the skollagen (the Education Act). Last year, the board decided in 89 percent of its cases that schools had not followed the law. But the decisions of the board rarely have any effect.

With our compensation claims we aim to raise awareness on this and on the fact that there is no government overview of these children’s right to education today. Since 2022, Skolinspektionen (the Swedish Schools Inspectorate), no longer accepts individual complaints. 

Recognizing that individuals with disabilities may experience multiple forms of discrimination, such as race, gender, or socioeconomic status, how does the project navigate and address the intersectionality of these issues within the inclusive dialogue to create a more holistic and tailored approach to support? 

Intersectionality determines who have access to power as well as who does not have access to power. During the first year of Rätt på Riktigt, we conversed, interviewed, and collected information regarding the experiences and needs of various students, youth, parents, national and local non-profit institutions that work with different disabilities, and public officials. But we have also tried to reach communities for whom information about discrimination and inadequate accessibility is not easily available. For example, we have collaborated with Wadajir, which is an organization that brings together mothers of Somalian background. Through Wadajir, we have held workshops with parents and have been able to provide information. We have also collaborated with Internationella Kvinnoföreningen. This has enabled us to speak with a diverse international group of women for whom Arabic is their first language.

Currently, we are in the second year of the project, which focuses on production. Thus, now the website is being built. To create inclusion and diversity, a mix of persons have been invited to participate in focus meetings, to give us input on the different stages of the production of the website. The mix has provided us with valuable feedback.

In the third year of the project, it will be crucial to communicate the project outcomes. It will be important to continue collaborating with different persons and organizations to reach various communities. This is especially important if you want to reach people who have less access to power.  

Can you share any personal narratives or stories from students, parents, or educators involved in the project that highlight the impact of self-reflection and inclusive dialogue on their experiences within the education system?

Through the project, we met with one parent, who discovered her child had problems with language development at the age of three. Therefore, the child had not developed proper speech. The special education teacher at the preschool was keeping an eye on her child’s development and told the parent. They met with a speech therapist, who gave the parent words that she could practice with her child. The parent tried to help the child at home as much as possible.

In second grade the situation for the child had improved and was doing well in school. However, when the child started third grade, the parent became sick. Later when the parent spoke with the teacher at school, the child was again experiencing language difficulties. The teacher told the parent that the girl had not achieved the target in the Swedish classes.

The girl had lost a lot of her language skills and the parent was shocked and felt the teachers were not engaged in helping her daughter. That is when the parent contacted Malmö mot Diskriminering. She spoke to one of our attorneys who gave her suggestions on how she needed to formulate herself in her conversations with school regarding her child. The attorney told her to give the school a month to provide her child with the appropriate help. The principal really listened to the parent and within a month the child received the appropriate support and help.

Featured picture: by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

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