21 November 2012

South Africa: Many Disabled Kids Not in School

Johannesburg — At least 467,000 disabled children are not attending school, Deputy Minister for Children Hendriette Bagopane-Zulu said on Wednesday.

"This year alone, we have 467,000 children of school going age who are not getting an education," she said in Johannesburg.

"We have a mandate to reduce that and we are working with the department of basic education on that."

She was speaking at the hand-over of an equality report to the department by the SA Human Rights Commission.

Bagopane-Zulu said special schools were not the only solution to ensuring that disabled children had access to a quality education.

Children with certain disabilities should be attending the same schools as able children.

"You don't need disabled kids [being] subjected to special schools."

With November being identified as "disability month", the SAHRC launched the equality report, highlighting some of government's shortfalls in realising and attaining the rights of people with disabilities.

"Children who are severely and profoundly disabled are denied access to education in both mainstream and special schools," said commissioner Bokankatla Malatji when delivering the report.

According to research by the commission, about 10 percent of children with disabilities were not attending school in South Africa.

The commission also pointed out that government had failed to comply with the obligations of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) and was yet to submit its report.

The commissioner said despite some progress by the government, the commission was of the view that a lot more had to be done.

The deputy minister acknowledged some of the shortcomings, admitted that there were policies and programmes in place, but said putting them into practice was a problem.

She said the report by the commission would assist the department in working through all its challenges.

"We accept the report and will process the contents thereof."

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