Cape Town, 30 May 2017

In its March 2016 report to the Portfolio Committee, the Department of Basic Education acknowledged that drastic measures have to be taken to accelerate the implementation of inclusive education.

Robyn Beere, Director of Inclusive Education South Africa said “whilst we would like to thank the Department of Basic Education (DBE) for their considered response to the civil society report on the Government of South Africa’s implementation of inclusive education. The DBE’s 2016 /17 report falls short of reporting on these drastic measures.”

Key issues that the DBE does not report on are:

  • Progress in the funding and budgets for inclusive education, other than that for Special Schools and the education of learners with Severe and Profound Intellectual Disability;
  • The quality and functioning of full service and ordinary schools;
  • The quality, cost, safety and accessibility of transport for learners with disabilities and the number of learners who are out of school.

“The DBE’s report fails to account for the quality of implementation and training of teachers.”


“According to the February 2016 DBE Report on the Implementation of Inclusive Education, 5 552 children with disabilities were on Special School waiting lists. The DBE statistics for 2017 indicate that 11 461 children are on waiting lists. This increase of 300% points, either to continued inaccuracies in data collection or a downturn in the Department’s ability to provide access to education for children with disabilities.”


“Whilst the conditional grant of R477 million for Children with Severe and Profound Intellectual Disability (CSPID) is welcomed, it is as the result of a court case finding against the DBE, not as a result of improved funding efforts for inclusive education.  None of the Special Schools.

“None of the Special Schools have been declared no-fee schools, leaving the burden of costs to parents.”

Beere highlights that “the DBE makes reference to rigorous quarterly monitoring on inclusive education budgets but these are not separate to budgets for special schools. No disaggregation of expenditure for the expansion of inclusive education as distinct from funding for special education is available and it is therefore impossible to monitor spending and accountability for inclusive education.”


“Whilst the orientation of 29 000 educators is welcomed, this equates to educators from only 14.5% of all public schools having received orientation to SIAS and differentiation. The DBE has not accounted for how the remaining 85.5% of schools will be trained before their SIAS implementation deadline of 2019.”


“The DBE reports on the number of buses provided for transport but does not indicate whether this is sufficient to meet the numbers of learners who require transport; the quality and safety of the transport or whether the transport is adapted to the needs of learners making use of it.”


“The DBE reports on the numbers of learners accessing SS hostels. This data is absolutely meaningless on its own. It does not show whether or not the hostel accommodation is sufficient for the numbers of learners requiring accommodation. Nor does it indicate the level of care children receive, adequacy of facilities or training of staff. It also does not address the critical absence of post provisioning norms and standards for special school hostels which remain chronically under staffed and unable to adequately care for learners in SS hostels.”


“The increase in the number of Special Schools that have been capacitated to act as Special School Resource Centres from 89 in 2015 / 2016 to 108 in 2017 is acknowledged and applauded.”


“In its 2015/16 report the DBE reported that 781 FSS had been designated. In its 2016/17 report this number has dropped to 715. Once more, this either reflects poor data collection of a decline in the conversion of ordinary schools to FSS.”


“The reporting of Special Classes / Units in ordinary schools is of concern as this segregatory model is not the model of inclusion promoted in White Paper 6 or national of international best practice.”

She concluded that “It remains to be seen exactly how the DBE plans to meet President Zuma’s commitment to zero children with disabilities out of school by 2021, when the Government of South Africa is unable to provide accurate data for planning, lack of funding for the expansion of IE and no evidence of genuine monitoring and accountability. Children with disabilities in South Africa do not have 16 more years to wait while the DBE plans for their education.”

Note to editors:

In March 2017, the Right to Education for Children with Disabilities Alliance provided an alternative report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This was done in response to South Africa’s Baseline Country Report of March 2013.

Contributions to the report came from a broad range of representatives attending a stakeholder engagement on 1 November 2016. Primary authors of the report are as follows:

  • Brian Watermeyer, UCT Disability Studies
  • Chandre Stuurman, Equal Education Law Centre
  • Emma McKinney, Christian Blind Mission South Africa
  • Odette Swift, DeafSA
  • Robyn Beere, Inclusive Education South Africa
  • Silomo Khumalo, SECTION27
  • Sue Philpott, independent researcher, Disability Action Research Team
  • Thabisile Levin, Down Syndrome South Africa
  • Tim Fish-Hodgson, Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa
  • Vanessa Japtha, Inclusive Education South Africa

The report makes numerous recommendations to improve conditions for children with disabilities. These span admissions policies and practices, to suitable transport for children. The report can be viewed online at