NCPD Calls for Urgent Action to Address Access to Inclusive Education

The National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) Calls for Urgent Action to Address the Alarming Number of Children Unable to Access Formal Education

Johannesburg, June 2023 – The National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) has confirmed that an estimated 600,000 children in South Africa are unable to access formal education. This staggering figure has raised concerns among advocates for disability rights and highlights the urgent need for action to address this critical matter.

SABC News insert with Dylan Mashele

According to research conducted by the NCPD in collaboration with provincial Associations of and for Persons with Disabilities (APD’s), it was found that the root cause of this crisis lies in the lack of political will and inadequate implementation of existing legislation. While South Africa boasts comprehensive legislation on inclusive education, the effective implementation and budget allocation for its execution remain low on the government’s agenda.

The prevailing misconception and misunderstanding of inclusive education further exacerbate the problem. Many children who would benefit from specialized education in special schools are being left without any educational opportunities, while a significant number of learners who could thrive in mainstream schools are being directed to special schools. This unbalanced approach underscores the urgent need for new school infrastructure, particularly in provinces like the Northern Cape, where the lack of special schools hinders access to education for children with disabilities.

The negative attitudes and lack of understanding among many officials within the Department of Education and certain school principals and staff contribute to the exclusion of children with disabilities. Physical inaccessibility of school premises, inadequate training for mainstream school staff, and transportation challenges further compound the issue.

NCPD urges both the government and the public at large to prioritize the needs of individuals with disabilities, especially during their school-going years. Efforts must be focused on improving the implementation of inclusive education policies, fostering collaboration between the Department of Health and the Department of Education in providing assistive devices, and investing in training programs for both special schools and mainstream school staff. Additionally, the construction of accessible school facilities and the provision of essential resources, such as nappies for children with specific needs, should be given utmost attention.

To address this critical matter, the NCPD, in partnership with the Human Rights Commission, is pursuing a class action against the Department of Basic Education in the Northern Cape. The aim is to obtain a court ruling that ensures children of school-going age have access to education. Additionally, concerned parents and communities in the Upington area are taking the initiative to establish their own school to alleviate the educational challenges faced by their children.

The NCPD acknowledges the efforts made by the national Department of Basic Education but emphasizes the need for better coordination and implementation at the provincial level. Collaboration with non-profit organizations, such as the NCPD’s projects and programs, can significantly contribute to the development of cost-effective and impactful solutions.

For further information and media inquiries, please contact:
Therina Wentzel: National Director | +27 83 255 6854 text only |
Dylan Mashele: PR and Communications | +27 83 513 2662 |

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