France is noted as a world leader when it comes to education, with 23% of the budget earmarked for it. But it was only in 2005 that France changed its laws to make access to education equal for everyone, including special needs students. Caroline Boudet is mother to a little girl with Down syndrome, Louise. She joined us for Perspective.
"Inclusion is not real in France; it is a word, it is in the law", Boudet tells FRANCE 24. In reality, she explains, parents are constantly confronted with difficulties and questioned over the decision to have a special needs child in mainstream education.
Specialist doctors say that anyone with Down syndrome is as capable as anyone else and that those with it benefit from being integrated into regular society. People with Down syndrome, however, do need extra help to learn and Louise has an assistant to help her for some of the time she is at school. Her parents had to fight very hard to obtain that help, which isn’t guaranteed going forward. "I still remain fearful [for the future] because in France, every year, the system will check if Louise can stay in mainstream education," her mother explains.