Disability, human rights and
education in Cyprus
Education and employment for children and adults with disabilities has recently been a hot issue in Cyprus. This is partly owing to recent educational and legislative developments regarding the issue of integrated education for children with special needs. It is also owing to a fund-raising activity for children and adults with special needs which was first launched in 1990 and has recently turned into a major nationwide annual charity event called Radio-Marathon. Events such as this have raised all sorts of issues regarding disability and human rights, and it is true to say that they have increased public awareness on what used to be a taboo subject. At what cost? The charity model has become well established in people's consciousness at the expense of a human rights model. Who benefits from this, how do disabled people feel about it and what can be done in the future? The chapter that follows will attempt to answer these questions.
Issues of disability, human rights and education have a parallel but not necessarily interlinked history in Cyprus. This is to say that although all three topics have often been debated in public, especially at times when this was expedient, such as the International Year for the Disabled (1981), the three issues very rarely appear interrelated. This is particularly true of issues of education and human rights. On the eve of the introduction of new educational legislation for children with special needs this is particularly obvious. The new legislation will come to replace the outdated existing legislation of 1979 (Ministry of Education and Culture 1996). According to existing legislation, four categories of special need are still in use for education purposes,