The Human Rights Watch World Report 2018 was released on Thursday, 18 January. It has the following to say about the rights violations of children with disabilities in South Africa. (Interestingly, most of the Disability Rights section of the report is about children with disabilities):

“Disability Rights

In October, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) highlighted estimates that half-a-million children with disabilities still do not have access to education, with 11,461 children with disabilities on waiting lists for school placements (up from over 5,500 in 2015). The SAHRC expressed concern that children with disabilities constantly experience barriers to the enjoyment of basic human rights, including the right to education, healthcare, and family care.

Despite the government’s international and domestic obligations, many children with disabilities do not have equal access to primary or secondary education, and face multiple forms of discrimination and barriers when they do access schools. They are turned away from mainstream schools, denied access to inclusive education, and referred instead to special schools by school officials or medical staff simply because they have a disability. The referrals system needlessly forces children to wait up to four years at care centers or at home for placement in a special school.

While education in public schools is free, children with disabilities who attend government special schools are required to pay school fees, and many who attend mainstream schools are asked to pay for their own class assistants as a condition for admission. In mainstream schools, many children with disabilities do not have access to the same curriculum as children without disabilities. In addition, many children with disabilities are exposed to high levels of violence and abuse by teachers and students.

In 2017, the government did not complete its efforts to publish accurate data on how many children and young people with disabilities are out of school across the country. It also failed to implement key aspects of the 2001 national policy, which calls for the provision of inclusive education for all children with disabilities, and is yet to adopt legislation that guarantees the right of children with disabilities to inclusive education.

However, the government continued to implement the Screening, Identification, Assessment, and Support (SIAS) policy designed to ensure that children with disabilities are provided full support when accessing education. The majority of the government’s limited budget for students with disabilities continued to be allocated to special schools rather than to inclusive education.”

You can read the South Africa section of the report here:

https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2018/country-chapters/south-africa

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