Nearly 10 000 children with special needs are still waiting to be placed in school, with the problem being most severe in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
Sonja Boshoff, a Democratic Alliance (DA) Member of Parliament, on Wednesday revealed the extent of the problem in a terse statement.
“A reply to a DA parliamentary question by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, has revealed that 9 606 special needs learners are not yet placed in schools,” said Boshoff.
She said the reply indicated that 3 244 learners with special needs were without school places in the Eastern Cape, followed by Gauteng, which has a waiting list of 1 785, and KwaZulu-Natal, with 1 636, while the Western Cape has placed all those in need of schooling.
“It is utterly unacceptable that thousands of children are denied their right to basic education, as enshrined in Section 29 of the Constitution,” said Boshoff.
“It is even more worrying to note that the number of children with special needs who are on waiting lists has increased from 9 232 learners in 2013/2014 to 9 606 in the 2015/16 financial year.”
Boshoff said the DA will write to the chairperson of the relevant Portfolio Committee, Nomalungelo Gina, to request that Motshekga be summoned to Parliament to answer for why these vulnerable learners are being treated in this way, and demand that she present a full plan to remedy this situation as a matter of urgency.
“The DA will make it clear to the minister that no child, no matter his or her disability, should be denied access to education,” said Boshoff.
“Education remains the best way to fight poverty and inequality, and ensure that every single person – no matter the circumstances of their birth – can reach their full potential and live a life they value.”
Boshoff said the DA will use every mechanism available to hold the ANC accountable for the failure to take the education of our children seriously.
The following is a list of provinces and the number of children with special needs that are yet to be placed:
*Eastern Cape 3244
*Free State 621
*Northern Cape 87
*North West 803
*Western Cape 0