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399 Department of Basic Education, “Regulations Relating to Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure,” 29 November 2013.

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Paragraphs 84 to 86 of the government’s draft report provide aspirational activities and reviews which were scheduled to be met or to take place in 2014. Since the consultation for the final submission of the report is taking place in 2015, it would be pertinent for the government to provide an accurate picture of the status of such reviews in 2015.

In line with comments in paragraph 84, the Department of Basic Education has not yet implemented the following policies mandated by South Africa’s Schools Act or other

relevant national policies, which have a significant impact on children with disabilities:

A Government Gazette with compulsory school going ages for children with disabilities (or ‘children with special education needs’), taking into account late entry into school and reasonable accommodations for children with disabilities who fall outside the compulsory age range of 7-15 years (Schools Act, 1996, Chapter 2, Section 3 (2)), is now 19 years overdue;

The Norms and Standards for funding of inclusive education to accompany the implementation of “Education White Paper 6” (Norms and Standards for School Funding, 2006, Section 1(4)), is now 9 years overdue;

The “National Learners Transport Policy,” guaranteeing inclusion and subsidized transportation for learners with disabilities, reflecting the additional financial burden imposed on children with disabilities who must travel long distances, as well as those with moderate and severe physical disabilities, for whom adequate transport is essential but represents a significant expense, which reportedly has been in draft form and discussions since 2009.

Human Rights Watch also notes the continued absence of a legal definition of ‘reasonable accommodation’ in existing education guidelines adopted since the ratification of the CRPD in 2007. Embedding this key principle in South African law and policy would assist in increasing understanding by education officials at national, provincial and district level, of the needs and requirements of children with disabilities within the education system, and would create legally binding measures to ensure compliance at the school level.

Implementation of Inclusive Education [Pars. 88 – 97] Human Rights Watch acknowledges governmental efforts to improve the situation of children with disabilities as well as the various initiatives the government has undertaken “COMPLICIT IN EXCLUSION” 100 to support its long-term inclusive education goals, outlined in this section of the draft report. While this section provides details on current training, resourcing, and curriculumrelated activities which are underway, it provides no specificity to explain the extent, scale, and provincial or nation-wide reach of the activities. This would provide the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities with a more accurate picture of the scale of its implementation, and clarify the number of children with disabilities who would be potentially affected through such initiatives.

Furthermore, the government’s first baseline report provided a more accurate picture of a number of barriers faced by children with disabilities when accessing education, often due to numerous systemic faults which the government undertook to address.400 Human Rights Watch research shows that children with disabilities continue to be significantly affected by the lack of inclusive teacher training, the lack of teacher awareness of the diversity of disabilities, the lack of understanding and practical training of children’s needs according to their disabilities, and the absence of teacher incentives to teach children with disabilities in public ordinary schools. Human Rights Watch’s research found that all these factors combine to expose children with disabilities to unequal and poor quality education, as well as unequal and discriminatory treatment in ordinary, full-service and special schools.

Tracking out-of-school children [Pars. 98-99] and Statistics [Pars. 100 – 137] Despite the draft report’s reference to the existence of a protocol between the Departments of Education and Social Development and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), Human Rights Watch notes that the Department of Basic Education has to-date not published a consistent figure of out-of-school children with disabilities.

The draft report fails to clarify the significant discrepancy in overall data on enrollment of learners with disabilities provided by the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Social Development, originally presented in paragraphs 204 to 208 of the government’s initial submission to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

While paragraph 141 of the draft report indicates that the estimated number of children with disabilities out of school is 197,517, the baseline report indicates that “children of schoolgoing age who are not at school, could be as high as 480,036,” according to the Department of Basic Education’s own calculations. Furthermore, the government accepted 400 Baseline Country Report to the United Nations on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in South Africa (2008-2012). paragraphs 226, and 238- 240.





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In line with its obligations in the CRPD, the government of South Africa should clarify the above discrepancy and only present accurate data which provides the full extent of the reality affecting children with disabilities. If the government is unable to do so, it should acknowledge the steps taken to produce an accurate figure and assessment of children with disabilities who are out of school, and disaggregate by types of disabilities.

The government should also outline what measures are in place to ensure the government enrolls all children with disabilities of compulsory school-going age who are presently out of school, in compliance with article 24 of the CRPD.

401 Ibid, paragraphs 205 and 206.

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Hon. Min. Angie Motshekga MP Minister of Basic Education Department of Basic Education Private Bag X895 Pretoria 0001 South Africa Re: Findings of Human Rights Watch report on the right to education of children with disabilities Dear Honorable Minister, Human Rights Watch is an independent, international human rights organization that conducts research into the human rights situations in more than 90 countries globally.

Human Rights Watch conducted research on the right to education of children with disabilities in South Africa in October and November 2014 and May 2015. We worked closely with many nongovernmental organizations focused on education and social services for children with disabilities, as well as with leading organizations and practitioners working in the field of education and the rights of people with disabilities.

Human Rights Watch has been in ongoing communication with senior members of your Department in the context of this research. On November 12, 2014, Human Rights Watch met with the Director and Chief Education Specialist of the Inclusive Education Unit to discuss the Department’s implementation of “Education White Paper 6.” On May 19, 2015, Human Rights Watch met with the Acting Chief Director of Media Liaison and Spokesperson of the Department of Basic Education, as well as with the Acting Director of Communications and Research.

Prior to this, Human Rights Watch sent an official letter to the Department’s Acting Director General on February 22, 2015, requesting additional information to clarify the government’s progress and clarify existing data inconsistencies. We also liaised with South Africa’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva to seek an official response. We regret that we have not received an official response to the letter, which we aimed to include in our research. We have included a copy of this letter for your information.

We write to you to share an overview of our report’s findings and recommendations.

103 HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH | AUGUST 2015 We note that South Africa has made significant gains in guaranteeing an education for the overwhelming majority of primary school going children. We strongly encourage you to mobilize the resources and political will demonstrated by the government so far to ensure all children with disabilities are promptly guaranteed their right to an inclusive, quality education.

We would be pleased to include your Department’s responses to our findings and recommendations. In order to include your Department’s response, we respectfully request you to provide an answer no later than July 21, 2015.

In an effort to engage with you and your Department, we will also share information on the forthcoming launch of our report, including an invitation for you to participate in an official event.

Sincerely yours,

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CC. Mr. S G Padayachee, Acting Director General Ms. Carol Nuga-Deliwe, Chief Director, Strategic Planning and Reporting Mr. Elijah Mhlanga, Acting Chief Director, Media Liaison and National and Provincial Communication Mr. Moses Simelane, Senior Director, Inclusive Education

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Hon. Min. Bathabile Olive Dlamini MP Minister of Social Development Department of Social Development Private Bag X904 134 Pretorius Street HSRC Building North Wing Pretoria 0001, South Africa Fax: +27 86 715 0829 Re: Findings of up-coming Human Rights Watch report on the right to education of children with disabilities Dear Minister, Human Rights Watch is an independent, international human rights organization that conducts research into the human rights situations in more than 90 countries globally.

Human Rights Watch conducted research on the right to education of children with disabilities in South Africa during October and November 2014, and May 2015. We worked closely with many nongovernmental organizations focused on education and social development services for children with disabilities, as well as with leading organizations and practitioners working in the field of education and the rights of people with disabilities. Although we requested a meeting by email, we were not able to meet with representatives of your department.

We write to you to share an overview of our up-coming report’s findings and recommendations pertaining to the Department of Social Development’s mandate on the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as its responsibility for centers for children and adults with disabilities.

We note that South Africa has made significant gains in guaranteeing the right to education and other child rights. We strongly encourage you to mobilize the resources and political will demonstrated by the government so far to ensure all children with disabilities are promptly guaranteed their right to an inclusive, quality education, as well as the full extent of their rights.

–  –  –

In an effort to engage with you and your Department, we will also share information on the forthcoming launch of our report, including an invitation for you to participate in an official event.

Sincerely yours,

–  –  –

CC. Hendrietta Bagopane-Zulu, Deputy Minister of Social Development Ms. Lidia Pretorius, Chief Director, Advocacy, Disability Rights Unit Mr. Elijah Mhlanga, Acting Chief Director, Media Liaison and National and Provincial Communication Mr. Moses Simelane, Senior Director, Inclusive Education

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Email received May 21, 2015, 13:23 From: Elijah Mhlanga, Chief Director: Media Liaison, National and Provincial Communication, Department of Basic Education Attachment Name: DBE on Inclusive Education The South African Schools Act, 1996 requires public ordinary schools to admit children/learners with special education needs, where this is reasonably practical. The Act goes further to suggest that if the integration of a learner in a particular educational context cannot be achieved, the principal of the school must refer the application for admission to the Head of Department to have the learner admitted to a suitable public school in that province or to a school in another province.

The Department of Basic Education is implementing Education White Paper 6 which provides for a progressive conversion of public ordinary schools to full service/inclusive schools, which should be able to admit special needs learners and provide them with appropriate support.

This conversion process entails the provision of capacity to the selected schools, which includes teacher development activities. To date, over 500 such schools have been selected and are being capacitated.

On the question about the adaptation of schools, SASA, 1996 provides for public schools to make necessary arrangements, as far as practically possible, in making their facilities accessible to special needs learners. This they must facilitate through the support of the district.

Equipping public schools to deal with disabilities is inherent in the capacity building that is provided to those schools that are progressively earmarked for conversion to inclusive schools, and where necessary, the capacity building process should be coupled with the provision of necessary assistive devices and technologies.

There are currently 106 Full-Service Schools out of a total of 791 have been physically upgraded at a cost of 1.17billion in total. Because accessibility is such a critical priority for the DBE, the

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As indicated above 791 ordinary schools have been designated as full service schools. Over and above the physical upgrading an enormous amount of training has been conducted to equip teachers at these schools with the skills to support learners who experience barriers to learning, including learners with disabilities. Assistive technology to the value of R69,4 million has been supplied to 459 full-service schools, 13798 teachers have been trained to implement curriculum differentiation in 2013 – 2014. Furthermore 2979 teachers and 891 officials have been trained on the Guidelines for Responding to Diversity.

There are 440 special schools in the country. Of these 285 have been strengthened in 2013 – 2014 at a cost of R1,6 billion. There are 80 special schools that have been equipped to become resource centres in 2013 at a cost of R516 million. It is one of the ongoing priorities of the DBE to improve qualifications and specialised skills of teachers in areas such as South African Sign Language, Braille, Augmentative and Alternative Communication and other areas.

Currently the DBE has embarked on developing a Skills and Vocational Qualification and Learning Programmes to ensure that learners in special schools will have access to a curriculum which will improve their opportunities to enter employment or further occupational training pathways.

In terms of the General Household Survey 92.5 % of children with disabilities between the ages of 7 and 15 are attending school. This would translate in not more than 30000 learners being out of school. This number can be much more of the latest statistics on disability as published by the Statistician-General is taken into account. The DBE has entered into an agreement with the Department of Social Development to determine which children who receive care dependency grants are not in school and plans are in place to ensure that they have access to educational programmes as a matter of urgency.

One of the biggest challenges faced by the DBE related to children with disabilities are the negative attitudes of society, schools, school managers and teachers towards including them into ordinary schools as is their basic right in terms of the Constitution and the South African Schools Act.

“COMPLICIT IN EXCLUSION” 108 It is critical that schools change their practices to comply with the prescripts of the National Curriculum Statement which has inclusivity as one of its key principles.

Another challenges is the unequal spread of specialised facilities that are equipped to support learners with high support needs. Although a large number of new special schools have been built in rural areas over the past 20 years, there will never be enough special schools to meet the needs of all disabled learners. In terms of its obligations in terms of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Government is therefore strengthening its implementation of Inclusive Education and reviewing its approach to funding and personnel planning to ensure that the district-level is strengthened to support schools in several ways to become more inclusive.

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hrw.org



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