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«Human Rights Watch defends the rights of people worldwide. We scrupulously investigate abuses, expose the facts widely, and pressure those with power ...»

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237 Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of a 15-year-old boy with an intellectual disability, village near KwaNgwanase (Manguzi), KwaZulu-Natal, November 2014.

238 Human Rights Watch interview with Lala, the mother of a 14-year-old boy with autism, Polokwane, Limpopo, October 2014.

239 Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of a 12-year-old with an intellectual disability, Kwa-Ngwanase (Manguzi), KwaZulu-Natal, November 2014.

240 A condition that develops as a result of damage to the peripheral nervous system. A neuropathy indicates nerve disease or damage. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “Peripheral Neuropathy Fact Sheet,” undated, http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/peripheralneuropathy/detail_peripheralneuropathy.htm, (accessed June 5, 2015).

241 Human Rights Watch interview with Zelda Mycroft, chief executive officer, Chaeli Cottage, Cape Town, October 2014.

242 Human Rights Watch interview with the father of an 8-year-old with Down Syndrome, village near Tzaneen, Limpopo, October 2014;

Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of an 8-year-old with Down Syndrome, village near Tzaneen, Limpopo, October 2014;

Human Rights Watch interview with director, Vukuhambe Day Care Centre, Zwelethemba, Worcester, Western Cape, December 2014.

243 Human Rights Watch interview with the parents of a 9-year-old boy with a speech disability, Kwa-Ngwanase, (Manguzi),

KwaZulu-Natal, November 2014.

“COMPLICIT IN EXCLUSION” 56 A teacher’s misunderstanding and lack of practical skills to realize inclusive education in a classroom is a serious barrier for children who need specific support.244 According to Henry Hendricks of the National Professional Teachers Organization of South Africa, insufficient and inadequate training of teachers leads to a “tendency to label children who are acting out and labeling them for poor performance.”245 Many parents, children, and NGO staff referred to labels used by teachers and school officials to highlight children with disabilities who may not be progressing in the same way in a classroom. On many occasions, children were labeled “slow learners,”246 a term frequently, but not exclusively, used by parents and practitioners to refer to children with intellectual or learning disabilities. Human Rights Watch repeatedly heard references to terms such as “not cooperative” or “naughty” to refer to behavior in class.247

–  –  –

244 Human Rights Watch interview with Ancella Ramjas, director, Down Syndrome South Africa, Pretoria, October 2014;

Human Rights Watch interview with Difference Motseo, officer, Down Syndrome Limpopo, Tzaneen, October 2014.

245 Human Rights Watch interview with Henry Hendricks, general secretary, National Professional Teachers Organization of South Africa, Pretoria, January 2015.

246 In one case, a social worker informed a 14-year-old’s aunt that he could not go to a special school because “children there are only slow learners and they don’t take children with a profound disability.” Human Rights Watch interview with the aunt of a 14- year-old boy with intellectual disabilities and epilepsy, Johannesburg, October 2014.

247 Human Rights Watch interview with Mambo Malinga, specialist, Children’s DisABILITY Training Centre, Johannesburg, October 2014; Human Rights Watch interview with the father of an 8-year-old with Down Syndrome, village near Tzaneen, Limpopo, October 2014; Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of an 8-year-old with Down Syndrome, village near Tzaneen, Limpopo, October 2014.

–  –  –

Mambo Malinga, who trains teachers on autism, said: “They [the children] are very frequently labeled as naughty and having emotional problems or intellectual disabilities.

Wherever we go, people don’t have the knowledge. I never encountered someone who has the knowledge on autistic children.”249 In some cases, labeling leads “children to internalize that they’re bad. They are treated as if they’re stupid because their teachers have not been able to deal with them,” said Santie Terreblanche from Cape Mental Health.250 The combination of negative actions may drive many children who function lower to feel pushed out or neglected by teachers.251 A number of older students interviewed told Human Rights Watch they had dropped out of mainstream schools, in part due to believing they were “slow learners.” Pinkie, a 15-yearold girl, dropped out of school in 2013, after her teachers repeatedly labeled her a “slow learner.” She told Human Rights Watch that she also faced a hard time with her peers.252 Lack of understanding of disabilities may also lead teachers to use the wrong teaching methods.253 Renée Rossouw, from Sign Language Education and Development, a member of the Campaign to Promote the Right to Education for Children with Disabilities, told 248 Human Rights Watch interview with the father of an 8-year-old with Down Syndrome, village near Tzaneen, Limpopo, October 2014.

249 Human Rights Watch interview with Mambo Malinga, specialist, Children’s DisABILITY Training Centre, Johannesburg, October 2014.

250 Human Rights Watch interview with Santie Terreblanche, deputy director, Cape Mental Health, 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.





251 Human Rights Watch interview with Santie Terreblanche, deputy director, Cape Mental Health, 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; Human Rights Watch interview with Henry Hendricks, general secretary, National Professional Teachers Organization of South Africa, Pretoria, January 2015.

252 Human Rights Watch interview with Pinkie, a 15-year-old girl with learning disabilities, Kimberley, Northern Cape, November 2014.

253 Human Rights Watch interview with Naomi Crous, specialist, Children’s DisABILITY Training Centre, Johannesburg, October 2014.

“COMPLICIT IN EXCLUSION” 58 Human Rights Watch: “Some teachers might tell you, ‘We shout at these [deaf or hard of hearing] children and they just don’t listen.’”254 Education experts, many of whom are former teachers, expressed concern about the limited availability of university programs and pre- and in-service teacher training focused on inclusive education, based on their knowledge of recent graduates who were sent to special schools without adequate knowledge or practice.255 As of the 2015 academic year, the University of South Africa in Pretoria was the only university with a department of inclusive education, while three other universities offer inclusive education modules or postgraduate programs, one university offers modules in special needs education, and six universities offer no relevant core modules as part of their education studies programs. Candidates of the National Professional Diploma are only required to take one short module on inclusive education during the second year of their studies.256 Marie Schoeman, chief education specialist at the Department of Basic Education’s inclusive education unit, told Human Rights Watch that “teachers tend to teach to the average and those children that are under-delivering tend to be left out.”257 Henry Hendricks of the National Professional Teachers Organization of South Africa also agreed with this appraisal: “Teachers teach what is comfortable to them. Easy cases are resolved, but those needing instrumentalizing are not.”258 Teachers in mainstream schools have to teach over 40 children in one classroom, including children with disabilities. In such large classrooms, teachers resort to the classic model of rote learning and teaching at the front of a classroom, with their backs to the children, which is “incompatible with children with moderate to high level of needs and support, particularly 254 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.

255 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; Human Rights Watch interview with Professor Nareadi Pasha, University of South Africa, Pretoria, November 2014.

256 Based on Human Rights Watch research of undergraduate and postgraduate handbooks of 11 universities across different provinces conducted in December 2014.

257 Human Rights Watch interview with Marie Schoeman, chief education specialist, Inclusive Education Unit, National Department of Basic Education, Pretoria, November 2014.

258 Human Rights Watch interview with Henry Hendricks, general secretary, National Professional Teachers Organization of South Africa, Pretoria, January 2015.

–  –  –

The failure to introduce the current weighting system for children with disabilities, currently applicable in special schools, in mainstream schools,260 poses a significant challenge in the successful implementation of inclusive, quality education. Yet, its introduction would ensure teachers deal with manageable class sizes so that they can provide individual attention to any learner experiencing learning barriers and requiring additional support.261 Lack of Teacher Motivation, Incentives A number of organizations told Human Rights Watch that changes in teachers’ attitudes would go a long way in helping children feel included in classrooms. The challenge, according to staff at the Children’s DisABILITY Training Centre, is to motivate teachers.262 According to Hanlie Swanepoel, a district education therapist in Pretoria, teachers need to be urgently taught about multi-level teaching to deal with diversity in classrooms with a wide variety of disabilities, particularly to deal with multiple abilities and behaviors.263 Moreover, they have to be given practical skills. For example, teachers teaching children with Down Syndrome do not need to feel overly burdened when accommodating children in their classrooms.264 According to Vanessa dos Santos, president of Down Syndrome International, “[With the right] attitude towards that child, any good teacher should be able to manage,” particularly if a teacher promotes an inclusive ‘buddying system’ to ensure other students engage and work closely with children with Down Syndrome.265 259 Human Rights Watch interview with Nerina Nel, director, Children’s DisABILITY Training Centre, Johannesburg, October 2014.

260 For example, one child with autism spectrum disorder is equal to six children without disabilities.

261 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; Robyn Beere, director, Inclusive Education South Africa, Cape Town, October 2014.

262 Human Rights Watch interview with Naomi Crous, specialist, Children’s DisABILITY Training Centre, Johannesburg, October 2014.

263 Human Rights Watch interview with Hanlie Swanepoel, education therapist, Pretoria, December 2014.

264 Human Rights Watch interview with Ancella Ramjas, director, Down Syndrome South Africa, Pretoria, October 2014;

Human Rights Watch interview with Hanlie Swanepoel, education therapist, Pretoria, November 2014.

265 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Vanessa dos Santos, president, Down Syndrome International, December 2014.

“COMPLICIT IN EXCLUSION” 60 Part of the problem is a lack of incentive to teach children with disabilities. Under current performance arrangements, “mainstream schools are evaluated based on how many children have passed matric [secondary school exam]. It’s not in their interest to take on children with disabilities who could lower their performance,” according to Santie Terreblanche from Cape Mental Health, a member of the Campaign to Promote the Right to Education for Children with Disabilities.266 Members of the campaign feel the lack of incentives for inclusion discourages teachers who must spend extra class time focusing on children with disabilities. They believe schools and teachers would be more inclusive if the government rewarded inclusion in classrooms in the same way it prioritizes good academic assessments.267 This was also confirmed by officials at the Department of Basic Education, who told Human Rights Watch that schools are penalized for bad performance, which may lead to exclusion.268 According to Marie Schoeman, this is the case “particularly where children with some types of disabilities are subjected to standard assessments that do not accommodate their particular requirements.”269 To respond to this gap, the Department of Basic Education is designing a curriculum and accreditation that is appropriate for multiple levels of disabilities, to accommodate and scaffold the official school curriculum to cater for different levels of learning, and provide official accreditation on this basis.270 The government has given itself over five years to roll out this curriculum and train all teachers.271 266 Human Rights Watch interview with Santie Terreblanche, deputy director, Cape Mental Health, 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.

267 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.

268 Human Rights Watch interview with Moses Simelane, chief director, and Marie Schoeman, chief education specialist, National Department of Basic Education, November 2014.

269 Ibid.

270 Ibid.

271 Department of Basic Education, “Progress Report on Inclusive Education and Special Schools,” presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, 23 June 23, 2015, pp. 60-61.

–  –  –

When parents told Human Rights Watch that their children were labeled or referred to as “slow learners” in schools, they were asked if something was done differently to address how to support their children. There were few instances of individualized attention, and no consistency according to the type of public school.



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