6.11 Children of Parents with Learning Disabilities

A number of nongovernmental organizations and associations based in the Western Cape acknowledged progress made by the Department of Social Development in enrolling children with high support needs in special schools and care centers in the Western Cape province, particularly as a result of a 2011 High Court decision against the Department of Basic Education. Human Rights Watch interview with Tessa Wood, director, and Fatima Shaboodien, chairperson, Western Cape Forum for Intellectual Disability, Cape Town, October 2014.

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South Africa’s Failure to Guarantee an Inclusive Education for Children with Disabilities

Working with children with disabilities essay - Cool thesis

To build inclusive education in remote areas, the government should ensure that all medical and therapy staff who have contact with children with disabilities are aware of the government’s inclusive education policy. Moreover, in line with its own objectives, the government should ensure multi-disciplinary teams are set up and are well-resourced in areas where services have not been prioritized and where large numbers of children with disabilities remain out of school.

Cover letter working with children with disabilities

However, in Kwa-Ngwanase, which has only one hospital, medical and therapist advice recommended that most children with disabilities interviewed be placed in two special schools. One of the schools had a reported intake of 260 learners, with a waiting list of 180 students. Despite a reported wave of new enrollments at the second special school in the 2015 school year, nongovernmental representatives told Human Rights Watch that both schools continue to have very long waiting lists and do not guarantee a school placement to many children as a result of such lists.

Human Rights Watch focus group discussion with parents of children with disabilities

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In contrast, Human Rights Watch found that children with multiple disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and autism had minimal to no chances of proceeding beyond basic education. Adolescents and young adults with these disabilities, who had not finished compulsory education because of barriers and discrimination identified earlier in this report, faced limited opportunities to resume basic education or gain practical skills.

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Members of the Campaign to Promote the Right to Education for Children with Disabilities told Human Rights Watch that children who function lower are pushed out, and those who stay in classrooms are trained to get to that level. According to , children with fetal alcohol syndrome are seldom doing something “at their level.”

The  Human Rights Watch focus group discussion with parents of children with disabilities

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Advocate Bokankatla Joseph Malatji, disabilities commissioner at South Africa’s Human Rights Commission, told Human Rights Watch that children with sensory disabilities face exclusion across the education system due to the lack of materials in Braille and sign language in mainstream and special schools.

Campaign to Promote the Right to Education of Children with Disabilities, 2011, “Factsheet 6: Systemic barriers to inclusive education.”

Does the age of the child make a difference

Human Rights Watch focus group discussion with members of the Campaign to Promote the Right to Education for Children with Disabilities, Cape Town, October 2014 and May 2015.

An estimated half-a-million children with disabilities have been shut out of South Africa’s education system.

History of How We Treated People With Disabilities

Governmental and nongovernmental data provide very different views of how many children with disabilities are out of school across the country. Nongovernmental organizations and service providers interviewed by Human Rights Watch strongly believed the government’s inability or unwillingness to release valuable data creates greater invisibility for children with disabilities and undermines the scale of the challenges, impacting resources available to fully implement inclusive education.