Since 2018, the world has observed January 24 as the International Day of Education. This year’s theme is “Changing Course, Transforming Education” – an approach that has defined the work of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) for over 20 years.
We have done this by exposing concerns and challenging the education sector through developing policies, making submissions and recommendations to government, school boards and post-secondary institutions, and taking part in strategic litigation.
In 2012, the OHRC intervened in Moore v British Columbia (Education), where the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that human rights laws in Canada protect the right of all students to an equal opportunity to learn to read. In 2018, the OHRC released an updated Policy on accessible education for students with disabilities and made recommendations for improving education outcomes for students with disabilities to the Ministry of Education (MOE), school boards, private education providers and post-secondary institutions. And in November 2021, the OHRC wrote to the K–12 Education Standards Development Committee and the Postsecondary Education Standards Development Committee on their recommendations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We have also worked with post-secondary institutions across Ontario to add a human rights lens on approaches to accommodating students with mental health disabilities and dealing with racism.
In the coming weeks, the OHRC will release the Right to Read report on its inquiry into human rights issues that affect students with reading disabilities in Ontario’s public education system. Since October 2019, we have heard from parents, students and educators across the province about their experiences, challenges and concerns about how students with reading disabilities fare in Ontario’s public education system. The Right to Read report will provide recommendations in areas such as curriculum, early screening, reading interventions, accommodations and psychoeducational assessments.
The OHRC invites all Ontarians to engage with the Right to Read report when it is released, and to join us in the everyday goal of transforming education in Ontario to be equitable and inclusive for everyone.