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Motshekga Ordered To Include Learners With Disabilities

Equal Education has managed to secure another victory for school children all over South Africa. This time, it has managed to do it for learners with disabilities whose needs have been erased from the many guidelines that the department has released. The current regulations overlook the health, safety, and education needs that learners with disabilities have faced during the covid-19 pandemic. 

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Minister Motshekga has been given 3 weeks to create new guidelines for learners living with disabilities. These guidelines must now include learners who have intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities and epilepsy.

The current guidelines that were published by the Department of Basic Education only apply to schools that cater to learners who are deaf or blind, as well as learners with Autism. 

The guidelines did nothing to help learners who have other forms of disabilities such as intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities or epilepsy.

This means that schools that cater to these learners were not educated about the best ways to prevent the spread of covid-19 while catering to the special needs of these learners. 

They were also not given additional sanitisers, special masks (for learners with physical disabilities), or personal protective equipment for officials who would make direct contact with learners. 

Learners with disabilities who have not yet returned to school have also not been given much support. Some learners need assistive and therapeutic devices to help them learn while they are at home.

Motshekga has been ordered to make sure that all special schools and hostels have a backup infrastructure plan as well as health and safety measures designed specifically for learners with disabilities.

The guidelines must also have a breakdown of the plans that the department will put in place to make sure that all learners with disabilities will have enough devices and teaching equipment. 

"In terms of the court order, the Minister is required to publish the draft amended Directions and Guidelines for public comment (for a period of 10 days), to consider these comments, and publish the final Directions and Guidelines, within a total period of 6 weeks from today. This will, therefore, allow the public to contribute towards the development of the draft documents and scrutinise their contents." said the Equal Education Law Centre

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