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SAHRC probes lack of school for disabled kids

12 May 2022

The Mpumalanga office of Disabled People South Africa (DPSA) has approached the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to investigate the circumstances surrounding the delay in building a high school for pupils with disabilities.

DPSA provincial leader Patrick Mahlakoane said in an interview there was in Mpumalanga no high school to accomodate pupils with disabilities. Mahlakoane told Sunday World: “We have decided to approach the South African Human Rights Commission because our children are suffering. We also want to know what happened to the special school building project that was announced by the provincial government in 2011.

“While we were still waiting for the construction of the promised special school, the government built many schools ignoring the specialist school that they promised us,” said Mahlakoane.

“This is a human rights violation because these kids have the right to access education like any other children.”

Mahlakoane said that the lack of a special high school in the province contributes to people with disabilities being unable to find employment because they cannot continue studying.

According to him, the unemployment rate among people with disabilities in the province was very high. They remain unemployable as a result of this neglect.

When contacted for comment, the Human Rights Commission’s provincial manager, Eric Mokonyama, confirmed the commission had started to investigate the matter.

“The commission has written to the department of education in the province about the matter.

“After the investigation, the involved stakeholders will be expected to remedy the fault,” said Mokonyama.

He said the investigation is the first of its kind for the commission in the province.

When delivering his state of the province address in 2011, former Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza, who is now deputy president of South Africa, announced that plans were in place to build a special school that would serve as a high school for the children with disabilities.

The promise was made 11 years ago, but still there is no school, remarked Matlakoane.

Some years back, a special school in Limpopo reportedly expelled about 18 children from Mpumalanga, accusing them of occupying space meant for local children.

Nkosikwenzile Shabangu, 16, from Nkomazi, is one of the children with a disability who was forced to stay at home after completing her primary education.

Her mother Joyce Sibiya said Nkosikwenzile completed primary school in Bukhosibetfu Primary School in Driekoppies last year, but she would be unable to continue with her education as she was expected to find a school outside the province.

“We took her to the special school where she did well and passed her Grade 7, but I did not manage to get her to a private school because it is expensive,” said Sibiya.

Surprise Zitha, 17, from Block C in Nkomazi, faces the same problem as he was unable to further his studies after completing Grade 9.

“He is stressed because of this problem. He wants to further his studies but private schools are very expensive and we also can’t afford to take him to special schools situated outside the province,” said Surprise’s mother, Nonhlanla Tshisani.

These children are part of a much larger group of children living with disabilities who are unable to continue with their studies because of a lack of facilities to accommodate them in Mpumalanga.

Mpumalanga Department of education spokesperson Jasper Zwane has urged the parents to communicate with the department if they require information about special schools.

Source: Sunday World

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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