South Africa: Helping Children with Special Needs

The education department in the Western Cape, South Africa, must do more to help children with disabilities.

Development Diaries reports that many parents are still struggling to get spots for their children at special needs schools, and they believe that the education department is not doing enough to help them, according to a report by Groundup.

A report by the World Bank reveals that in Africa, less than ten percent of all children with disabilities under the age of 14 are enrolled in school, while an estimated 6.4 percent of children in this age range have moderate or severe disabilities.

It is understood that parents of children with disabilities protested last month, calling on the government to provide greater assistance for their children.

According to the report by Groundup, a submission was presented to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in July by the Centre for Child Law, and it was mentioned that between 500,000 and 600,000 learners nationwide do not attend school because of disability.

While the Western Cape Department of Education (WCED) says there are 75 special schools and 173 mainstream schools that can accommodate certain learners with certain special needs, many parents are still struggling to get spots for their children at special needs schools.

Despite policy frameworks like the South African Schools Act and the Inclusive Education policy aimed at ensuring access to education for all children, enforcement remains inconsistent.

Many schools lack the necessary resources, specialised staff, and facilities to accommodate learners with disabilities.

This discrepancy between policy and practice underscores a critical gap in the education system, where the needs of special needs learners are often overlooked or inadequately addressed, leading to their exclusion from mainstream education.

Furthermore, the shortage of specialised schools and qualified educators trained to handle diverse learning needs makes the situation worse.

Addressing this crisis requires an approach involving increased government funding, targeted teacher training programmes, and a stronger emphasis on inclusive education policies.

Development Diaries calls on the government of South Africa and the Western Cape Department of Education, in particular, to allocate more resources to develop infrastructure and support services that can accommodate special needs learners within both specialised and mainstream schools.

Source: Groundup

Photo source: Mary-Anne Gontsana


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