All disabled children should be in school - Zuma

2016-03-10 13:30

Pretoria - Government intends to ensure that by 2021 every child with a disability will be in school, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.

"They should all be able to attend their local neighbouring schools and receive the necessary support," he said in a copy of his speech delivered at the Disability Rights Summit in Pretoria.

Zuma said government had also made progress with regards to introducing South African sign language into the school curriculum from January last year.

"This is pivotal to ensuring that deaf South Africans are able to access information and communication," Zuma said.

A total of 83% of five-year-old children with disabilities were attending educational institutions and 93% of children aged between seven and 15.

He said the department of basic education had committed to ensuring that a continuum of support services were available for all children who experienced barriers to learning, including those with disabilities. 

At higher education level, Zuma said Minister Blade Nzimande, working in collaboration with the disability sector, continued to promote access to tertiary education and training.

More than 6 850 students with disabilities had been enrolled in higher education institutions and in 2014, 2 800 had been enrolled at Technical Vocational Education and Training colleges.

On transport, Zuma said government had directed the department to ensure that the public transport systems were universally designed to provide access and safety for all commuters.

"This is critical in ensuring independence and mobility for persons with disabilities," he said.

Government had also prioritised access to social assistance for people with disabilities who were in need.

"Social grants do not meet all the needs of current recipients.

"However, they go a long way in contributing toward household income equity for persons with disabilities and their families," said Zuma.

The work currently being done on the economics and cost of disability, would contribute to reforms in this regard.

Cabinet had also directed that the establishment of a government braille printing works be accelerated.

"We also need to work harder together to remove stereotypes and superstition that has proven to be detrimental to persons with disabilities," said Zuma.

Zuma on Thursday also convened the inaugural meeting of the Presidential Disability Working Group.

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