Education for children with disabilities In SA
Education for children with disabilities in SA is not meeting Human Rights Watch expectations. This was first confirmed at South Africa’s Human Rights Commission in 2015.
South Africa fails when it comes to the right to education for youth and young adults. The reason for this is that there is still discrimination against children with disabilities and enrollment decisions.
It was noticed that five out of South Africa’s nine provinces had disability discrimination hurdles as well as attitudinal barriers – starting early in children with disabilities lives due to being classified by government according to what disability they have.
Elin Martinez, children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch said:
“The South African government needs to admit that it is not providing quality education to to all of its children, in fact, no schooling at all to many who have disabilities. The job is not done until all children count just the same in the education system”
The South African government claim that they have achieved the UN millennium Development Goal of enrolment of children in primary schools but the reality is many children with disabilities are not yet in school.
South Africa was first to ratify the UN Disability Rights Treaty and it’s requirements to promote inclusive education. These inclusive education systems are designed enabling all children can learn the same skills all in one school with non – disabled children. Barriers to learning must be removed and enough support to be given so that they don’t fall behind.
The government has a policy since 2001 that states the end of exclusion of children with disabilities from country’s schools and that provision will be made to education for all in inclusive schools. The government hasn’t put in fundamental aspects of this policy. As is the government uses its very limited resources on special schools.
Many children are turned away from mainstream schools and referred to special schools by school officials and medical professionals because they are disabled. The waiting period to get into a special school is a good few years and during this waiting period the children must stay home until they accepted.
There is a huge lack of education surrounding children’s disabilities and a lack of adequate teacher training means that many teachers and staff are clueless when it comes to working with these children in classes. And even more disgusting is the fact that these children often become victims of violence and neglect in these schools.
Qinisela, KZN mother of an 8 year old with disability, had this to say:
“We tried to put him in a mainstream school but they said they couldn’t put him in that school because he has disabilities. Because Down’s syndrome he isn’t like other children so they said they can’t teach him. At the therapy they promised to phone if there’s a space in a special school. I’ve been waiting since last year”
It is a fact that children with disabilities go to school a lot later than children without disabilities. These kids often drop out of school without finishing basic education because of the lack of support in mainstream schools.