The National Council for Persons with Disabilities (NCDP) has estimated that around 600 000 children living with disabilities have never attended school before.

According to IOL News, the NCDP has expressed shock that these children are still missing out on their right to basic education.

“This lack of access goes against the Basic Education Department’s framework policy. This is why the department must cater to those learners with disabilities in the educational space. By not doing so, they’re breaking the law,” said specialist for advocacy, policy and children’s matters at the NCDP, Andre Kalis.

IOl News adds that Human Rights Watch said that the government was dragging its feet in ensuring adequate education for children with disabilities.

“In some areas they are on the waiting lists for assessments to see what disability they have and in the meantime there’s no school. I’ve met kids who are 8 and 10 years old and have never been to school, despite the law saying they should be in school from age 6,” added children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, Elin Martinez.

Furthermore Martinez says that in 2015 a follow-up report was done in which it was found that children with disabilities still did not have access to schools for a number of reasons, including being referred to social development.

IOL News reports that a Basic Education spokesperson noted the implementation of the policy for inclusive education as outlined in white paper six of 2001, was a priority of the Department.

“The department has established a protocol with the Department of Social Development and the SA Social Security Agency to ensure that all children aged 5 to 18 years have identification numbers and who receive grants are in school,” concluded Department spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga.

Whether the Department will indeed be able to deliver on this mandate, now that more of the public is aware of this issue, remains to be seen.

[Source – IOL News] [Image – CC 0 Pixabay]