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Home >> Resources >> External publications >> School segregation still deprives many children of quality education

School segregation still deprives many children of quality education

September 12th 2017

“The right to education is a fundamental human right. Yet, many European countries still deny thousands of children, including children with disabilities, Roma children and refugee or migrant children, equal access to it by keeping them in segregated schools. This is a violation of children’s human rights with far-reaching negative consequences for our societies. Member states have an obligation to secure the right of every child to quality education without discrimination”, said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, while releasing a paper on tackling school segregation through inclusive education.

The paper first provides an overview of school segregation in Council of Europe member states, as well as its main causes. It then reviews the risks that separate education entails and outlines the key principles that should underpin any policy to eradicate segregation and promote inclusive education. Finally, the report sets forth twelve recommendations to develop more inclusive education policies, in particular through improved anti-discrimination legislation, school desegregation strategies and better regulation of school admissions.

“School segregation harms children’s learning opportunities and is a clear injustice against minority and other vulnerable groups of people, which also perpetuates their marginalisation”, says the Commissioner. “States should adopt a combination of strong anti-discrimination measures and policies that promote more inclusive education systems where all children learn together. This is not a utopian project, but an achievable goal that can ensure more equal treatment of all children and, in the long term, improve social cohesion”, says Commissioner Muižnieks.

What is inclusive education?

A process that addresses and responds to the diversity of needs of all children, youth and adults through increasing participation in learning, cultures and communities, and reducing and eliminating exclusion within and from education.


  • Public responsibility to avoid inequalities in education, including through solid regulation & monitoring
  • Realising the rights in education (availability, accessibility, acceptability & adaptability) alongside the right to education
  • Expanded vision of the right to education beyond formal & compulsory education
  • Regulating school choice (through school catchment zones; reserved seats for students with special needs; facilitated school access)
  • All children can learn (high learning expectations for all; identify & adjust to specific learning needs)

Read the Position Paper, the Summary and more about the Commissioner’s work on children’s rights here.