South Africa: We Must Ensure Equal Access to Quality Education for Children With Disabilities


At the beginning of each year, learners and parents alike brace themselves while waiting for the admission and placement of learners in schools. As evidenced by occurrences in previous years, and the more publicised ordeal at Hoërskool Overvaal in 2018, learners from previously disadvantaged groups can often be overlooked and left without access to a school.

It is, of course, no secret that in terms of the South African education system, Persons with Disabilities are among the most excluded. In 2015, it was estimated by Human Rights Watch that over 600,000 children with disabilities are not in the school system in South Africa. Since the release of these statistics, it has come to light that this number may be even higher, as the government is yet to determine the exact number of children with disabilities not attending schools. This situation is undesirable, particularly considering that South Africa has developed laws and policies that place great value on education as a tool for development, equality, and poverty reduction.

The legal obligations placed on the state, by international and regional legal frameworks as well as the domestic legislative framework, are designed to minimise the exclusion of Persons with Disabilities from the education...

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