South Africa: Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu On Right to Education and Dignity for Learners With Intellectual Disabiliities

press release

Parents must uphold the right to education and dignity for learners with intellectual disabiliities, says Deputy Minister Bogopane Zulu

Deputy Minister of Social Development, Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu urged parents of learners with intellectual disabilities not to deny their children the right to education, an enabling right that empowers persons with disabilities to lead independent and fulfilling lives.

"Like all their peers, learners with intellectual disabilities have a basic right to education. As parents, yours is to uphold that right by ensuring that they access educational opportunities at a very young age. Learners with intellectual disabilities have inherent dignity that must be upheld by parents and their families at all times", said Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu.

Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu was addressing parents of learners with intellectual disabilities at Boitumelo Special School, Galeshewe at the officially unveiling of a disability-friendly computer laboratory. She was accompanied by MEC of Social Development, Mr Gift Van Staden and the Executive Mayor of Sol Plaatjie Municipality, Cllr Patrick Mabilo.

This initiative, which is a result of partnership between the Department of Social Development and MTN SA Foundation will benefit 211 learners currently at Boitumelo, one of the 880 special schools for learners with intellectual disabilities in South Africa.

To date, Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu has officially handed over 39 disability-friendly computer laboratories to schools designated as special schools for learners with intellectual disabilities, benefitting over 3000 learners. These schools are located mainly in townships and rural areas.

Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu emphasised that access to assistive technology is one of the key elements in bridging disparities between children with and without disabilities. Moreover, assistive technology provides the means for children with intellectual disabilities to participate in educational, vocational and employment training. This will ensure that learners with intellectual disabilities are not left behind in the fourth industrial revolution.

The partnership between DSD and MTN SA Foundation is already yielding positive results in terms of creating job opportunities for learners with intellectual disabilities. 32 learners from Learamele Special School, which received the disability-friendly computer laboratory are now gainfully employed in a local mine.

Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu also called on other private sector organisations to follow on the footsteps on MTN SA Foundation and do more for the inclusion of persons with disabilities. The partnership, which seeks to expedite the implementation of the White Paper on the rights of persons with disabilities, Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu will hand over two more computer laboratories at Zamokuhle Special School in Bizana, Eastern Cape and Pelonolo Special School in Marapyane, Mpumalanga before the end of this month (April).

As part of the long-term commitment to Boitumelo Special School, the department of social development and SASSA will conduct an assessment of all learners with the view to provide social relief of distress in a form of school uniform to eligible learners. The school uniforms will be sourced from local cooperatives, enabling women to earn an income and provide for their families.

Issued by: Department of Social Development

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