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Olga Lizasoain Rumeu,, Professor of School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra

The sick child and his or her right to Education

It is necessary to continue working to prevent and avoid the marginalization of the process educational of children who are admitted to a hospital and to achieve their integral development .

Fri, 20 Nov 2015 12:35:00 +0000 Published in El Diario Vasco, Diari de Tarragona, Today Extremadura

Universal Children's Day is celebrated on November 20, coinciding with the date on which the UN approved the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959. This day is a good occasion to talk about the right to the Education of students with serious illnesses and about hospital pedagogy, which is framed by the hospital environment where it is mainly carried out.

There is no doubt that illness has important repercussions on a person's life, and when this person is a child, the repercussions are especially significant because of the physical, psychosocial and pedagogical impacts. Children with serious illnesses are subjected to repeated hospitalizations and must face not only the fear or pain of medical procedures, but also all that the phenomenon of hospitalization and the absence of a normal life entails.

The hospital for a child is a place that is out of place, that has no logic, where questions such as why me? why me? why me? what will happen to me? are asked, and to which it is difficult to give an answer. The hospital for a child is a place where they do not eat the same food, do not sleep at the same time, do not obey the same people, and do not follow the same parameters of life. And in this context, the figure of the hospital teacher emerges as something familiar, close, with known rules, and questions arise such as: why a high school in the hospital? why study if I am sick? why learn? questions for which we can ask ourselves.
These are questions to which we do have an answer, precisely, from the universal right to Education.

In past decades, pediatric units were characterized by a rigid environment where there was no room for children's Education . Since René Spitz described in 1945 the 'hospitalism syndrome' about the negative consequences that admission to a medical center had on children's development , we can say that hospital pedagogy has been gradually implemented and evolved, supported by the nuclear right to Education and driven by the principles of normalization, inclusion and personalization of teaching.

Spanish legislation, as well as most of the educational policies of the rest of the European and Latin American countries, have been addressing this right to education. Education
of students in status of illness. It is clear that a student with a serious illness will not be able to attend regularly to high school and therefore we have hospital classrooms and educational home care services, in order that these students do not break their school rhythm, do not fall behind in their learning or in their development staff , while attending to the psychological and social needs generated by the illness and hospitalization. The Charter of the Rights of Hospitalized Children, approved by the European Parliament in 1986, and the Declaration of the Rights of Children and Young People in Hospital or under Treatment in Latin America and the Caribbean, within the scope of the Education, validated by the Latin American Parliament in November 2013, have contributed to this process.

Although there is still a long way to go, there is no doubt that they have served to promote actions in favor of sick and hospitalized children, from political, social, medical and educational levels. It has taken a lot to get this far. Let us hope that neither political ups and downs nor budget cuts will shake the already established instructions or the effective application of this Right to the Education. It is necessary to continue working along the same lines to prevent and avoid the marginalization of children who are admitted to hospital from the process educational and to achieve their integral development , also in an anomalous status such as having a serious illness.