We will do more for people living with disabilities, Ramaphosa tells economic summit

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President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
OJ Koloti, Gallo Images
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa has addressed an economic empowerment summit for people living with disabilities. 
  • The president said much work had been done by the government to help shield people living with disabilities against discrimination, but more had to be done. 
  • Ramaphosa added children living with disabilities needed to have solid schooling foundations catering for all their needs. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the government will do more in terms of policy legislation to ensure people living with disabilities are protected against discrimination.

Ramaphosa said the government had improved its awareness about the challenges and marginalisation of people living with disabilities since establishing a dedicated department. 

He was speaking at the summit on economic empowerment for persons with disabilities in Ekurhuleni on Wednesday. 

"Since the location of responsibility for the rights of persons with disabilities was transferred from the Department of Social Development to the Presidency, there has been important progress to address these deficiencies. Areas of focus include advancing communication methods and developing practical technological solutions for persons with disabilities.

As the government, we have a responsibility to work with all social partners to empower persons with disabilities and improve their quality of life," Ramaphosa said.  

The president added ensuring people living with disabilities were not marginalised included practical policies that went beyond talk shops but provided a defence against discrimination. 

"We must actively and deliberately promote employment opportunities and career advancement for persons with disabilities. This requires appropriate policies, including affirmative action programmes, incentives, and other measures.

"We also need to mobilise our collective resources - both public and private - to promote opportunities for self-employment, entrepreneurship, and the development of cooperatives.

"For its part, the government has introduced targeted economic empowerment programmes, including a procurement target of 7% for companies owned and run by persons with disabilities.

The conditions for economic empowerment must be created before people entered the labour market or looked to start their own businesses, Ramaphosa said. 

READ | International Day of Persons with Disabilities: We must all be part of the conversation

The president added just as economic opportunities were important for adults, the foundation received by children living with disabilities was as necessary. 

"We need to provide quality, inclusive education for children with disabilities.

"This entails improving and strengthening reasonable accommodation support measures for learners in special and ordinary schools. We must ensure that children with disabilities in ordinary schools have accessible learning materials no matter where the school is located.

"The government has developed a process to review Education White Paper 6 on Inclusive Education towards developing full-service schools and inclusive methods in mainstream schools.

"All children - including children with disabilities - need to receive a quality education wherever they are and whatever their circumstances." 

Ramaphosa said he hoped the summit would develop key areas and gaps the government could improve on. 

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