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Guarantee Right to Inclusive Quality Education for Children and Adults with Disabilities To National and Provincial Departments of Basic Education
• Address the urgent needs of children with disabilities and:
Require all public schools, as defined in the Schools Act, to provide reasonable o accommodation for all children with “severe learning difficulties” and multiple disabilities;
Establish and define short-term goals and timeframes to ensure students with o disabilities can transition from “special needs education” or special schools to inclusive schools;
Carefully vet any decisions taken by mainstream schools to refer children with o disabilities to special schools and, prior to considering referrals, require
mainstream schools and Heads of Department to:
• Urgently provide Braille textbooks, increase availability of South African Sign Language, as well as materials and assistive technologies for children who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or have low vision;
• Adequately train all teachers deployed to schools where deaf or hard of hearing students are accommodated in South African Sign Language to address the gap in access to quality teaching in South African Sign Language;
• Take special measures to remove barriers—financial or attitudinal—to ensure children who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or have low vision, acquire essential language skills in the foundational phase;
• Increase pre-service, in-service, and continuous trainings and mentoring of teachers and education assistants teaching in primary and secondary schools, as well as district and provincial education officers, on inclusive education and practical skills to include children with disabilities in public ordinary schools;
• Together with the Department of Social Development and police services, strengthen child protection mechanisms in ordinary public schools and schools with boarding facilities and introduce protocols to ensure greater protection for children with disabilities at risk of physical and sexual abuse and neglect. Ensure that parents are informed about these protocols when they are introduced;
• Together with the Department of Social Development, review the mandate of centers for people with intellectual disabilities to introduce Adult Basic Education modules to enable adults with disabilities to complete basic education and gain basic skills.
• Create a cross-departmental Action Plan with representatives from the Departments of Higher Education and Training, Social Development, Labour and the Premier’s Office, to develop a thorough school-to-work transition plan and policy to guarantee students with disabilities gain adequate skills, graduate and enter the employment market, in line with the Department of Social Development led National Action Plan on disabilities.
To the Department of Health
• Together with the Department of Basic Education, finalize guidelines for medical staff and therapists on how to provide guidance on schools’ placements for children with disabilities, in line with “Education White Paper 6” and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities obligation to maximize the academic and social development of the child;
• Organize information sessions at a district level to ensure medical professionals at children’s and provincial clinics are aware of such guidelines and fully understand inclusive education principles.
“COMPLICIT IN EXCLUSION” 86 To the Departments of Social Development, Basic Education and Health
• Produce and implement a joint inclusive education plan from early years to lifelong learning for children with disabilities that acknowledges the important links between early childhood care and development, basic education, higher education, and skills training and the roles of every department.
To the Department of Higher Education and Training and Basic Education
• Work closely with higher education institutions to increase the availability of modules on inclusive education for undergraduates, and design compulsory pre- and in-service teacher trainings on inclusive education, vetted by inclusive education experts.
To Members of the Executive Council
• Affirm commitments to guarantee the right to inclusive education of all children with disabilities;
• Ensure schools have taken all necessary steps to provide individual learning support and remedial education to leaners with disabilities who are lagging behind;
• Collect and regularly publish lists of children with disabilities on waiting lists, those waiting to be referred to special schools, as well as out-of-school children with disabilities, in order to provide an accurate account of the status of enrollments.
To the National Assembly of South Africa
• Amend the Schools Act to bring it fully in line with South Africa’s international
obligations with the effect of:
To the Minister of Basic Education
• Deliver a government gazette, an official government communiqué, with compulsory school-going ages for children with disabilities, adapting it to accommodate students who enter school late, as well as reasonable accommodations;
• Publish Norms and Standards for funding of inclusive education to ensure public special schools can qualify as “no fee” schools and do not charge fees and prohibit all public ordinary schools from imposing financial conditions on children with disabilities that children without disabilities would not incur;
• Finalize and publish the “National Learners Transport Policy,” guaranteeing inclusion and subsidized transportation for students with disabilities.
Adopt Stronger Policies and Laws on Inclusive Education To the Minister of Basic Education
• Begin a transparent and frank process to review “Education White Paper 6”—the government’s inclusive education policy—with a view to adopting a new policy on inclusive education to replace the existing policy, guarantee quality and inclusion in all learning environments, and ensure the government complies with Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Require mainstream schools and Heads of Departments to prove that they have o provided a minimum, acceptable level of additional, individualized learning or remedial support to reasonably accommodate children with disabilities, before moving a learner to a special school as a “last resort”;
Require school principals and school governing bodies to include costs o associated with reasonable accommodation of students with disabilities in mainstream and full-service schools, including education assistants and class facilitators, in annual school budgets;
Make the “weighting system,” whereby children with different disabilities are o weighted in relation to students without disabilities to calculate adequate teacher-to-student ratios, applicable in mainstream schools and full-service schools;
Include the right to access Adult Basic Education and skills programs for o people with disabilities who have not completed basic education;
Introduce performance incentives for teachers and insert qualitative o performance objectives for all schools, based on successful inclusion of children with disabilities;
Include an adequately resourced implementation plan to ensure all schools are o equipped and capacitated to accommodate children with high levels of support needs in line with the commitments made in “Education White Paper 6”.
To the National Assembly of South Africa
• Translate “Education White Paper 6,” the government’s inclusive education policy, into a comprehensive law binding national and provincial governments, ensuring it is fully in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This law should
An explicit “non-discrimination” clause, to comply with the United Nations o Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which makes it clear that any child with disabilities, regardless of the level of need and support, is entitled to their right to education, including early childhood, primary, secondary and higher education or vocational training;
An explicit “no rejection clause” requiring mainstream schools to provide o reasonable accommodation for all students with disabilities and guaranteeing children with disabilities can continue to learn in school beyond compulsory age limits;
An obligation for district teams and relevant education officials to provide o parents with full access to information on enrolment criteria, admissions processes and other administrative requirements, in line with “Education White Paper 6”;
Increase Accountability in the Education System To National and Provincial Departments of Basic Education
• Invest necessary resources in improving data systems to ensure schools of all types account for numbers of children with disabilities in school; grade levels, progression and drop-outs;
• Urgently set up a centralized register of waiting lists and children waiting to be placed and improve data collection of out-of-school children in institutions or centers managed by the Department of Social Development. Ensure such lists are available to parents and civil society organizations upon request;
• Collect and regularly publish lists of children with disabilities on waiting lists, those waiting to be referred to special schools, as well as out-of-school children, in order to provide an accurate account of the status of enrollments;
• Ensure schools have taken all necessary steps to provide individual learning support and remedial education to students with disabilities who are lagging behind;
• Introduce performance incentives for teachers and insert qualitative performance objectives for all schools, based on successful inclusion of children with disabilities;
• Make reporting on Individual Education Support Plans mandatory in all public ordinary schools and ensure teachers receive adequate training on how to design, implement and monitor such plans;
“COMPLICIT IN EXCLUSION” 90
• Ensure school principals and school governing bodies take action to adequately investigate all allegations of physical and emotional abuse, violence, and sexual violence in schools perpetrated against children with disabilities by educators and school staff, as well as by their peers;
• Require all schools to immediately refer cases of physical and sexual abuse against children with disabilities to the police and other relevant institutions for adequate investigation and prosecution;
• Ensure education officials consult stakeholders, including parents of children with disabilities and children themselves, regularly to better understand and meet the needs of students with disabilities.
To National and Provincial Departments of Social Development
• Improve data collection in stimulation centers, crèches, and primary and secondary public ordinary schools, to provide accurate and transparent statistics on the number of children with disabilities in school.
To the Departments of Social Development, Basic Education and Health
• Together with provincial departments, introduce joint information packages and adequately resourced one-stop services within health clinics to advise parents on their rights and the rights of their children, which also clearly outline steps to take to discuss their children’s needs and abilities and their right to inclusive education with designated teams;
• Develop a national protocol to deal with cases of sexual and physical violence against children or young people with disabilities in schools to work with police services to ensure adequate investigations in schools.
To the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education
• Closely examine provincial budget allocations and enforce requirements to equalize funding for “inclusive education” in all provinces, but particularly in Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, and Gauteng;
• Request an annual report on numbers of children with disabilities who are in and outof-school with a full breakdown by type of school or institution, disability, age, and gender;
To the South African Human Rights Commission
• Carry out regular investigations into allegations of discrimination and unequal access to education of children with disabilities.
To the Department of Justice
• Mandate that the South African Human Rights Commission lead an independent monitoring mechanism of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to ensure there is a transparent mechanism in place to assess governmental performance in its obligations.
To Statistics South Africa
• Include children and young adults who are registered in social or foster care institutions supervised by the Department of Social Development and boarding or hostel facilities in special and public ordinary schools supervised by the Department of Basic Education in data collections.
Allocate Resources and Safeguards to Guarantee Inclusive Education
To the Minister of Finance
• Deliver a national conditional grant to implement inclusive education goals and pay for non-personnel funding, including accessible infrastructure, assistive devices, and material resources to reasonably accommodate all children, among others.
To Members of the Executive Council
• Develop an adequately resourced implementation plan to ensure all public ordinary schools accommodate children with high levels of support needs in line with the commitments made in “Education White Paper 6”;