With the start of the new school year in full swing in some provinces, the IFP is concerned with the failure of the Department of Basic Education and other government departments to ensure that disabled children are accommodated in schools.
IFP Spokesperson on Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Ms Liezl van der Merwe MP said, "It is disheartening to learn that there are still many children who are denied schooling due to their disabilities. With South Africa being a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, it is unthinkable and unforgiveable that children are still denied their basic right to education."
Recently, the media reported that 13 year old Mangaliso Sambo from Mpumalanga, who suffers from cerebral palsy, is forced to stay at home because there are no schools that cater for his special needs where he lives. However, last year's public hearings of the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities on the rights of people with disabilities, revealed that there are many Mangalisos countrywide, who either receive no education or have to be accompanied by their parents to school in order to receive schooling.
"This situation is a clear indication that government departments are failing to provide for people with disabilities. The Department of Basic Education working in conjunction with the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities has the responsibility to provide the community with a list of schools that can cater for children with disabilities. If there are none in the area, it is Government's responsibility to ensure that these children are accommodated elsewhere," said van der Merwe.
South Africa has more than 450 special needs schools and it is the IFP's view that these must be made more accessible to all communities around the country, so that all children living with disabilities are able to access education.
"Furthermore, it is imperative that our Government work towards eliminating all forms of discrimination in the schooling system against children with disabilities. It is also the IFP's hope that opening more special needs schools and training more special needs teachers will be a government priority in 2013," concluded van der Merwe.