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NW Education told to improve safety at special schools

20 February 2020

The Basic Education Portfolio Committee has expressed concern at the lack of scholar transport for children with disabilities and the lack of resources at some of the North West special needs schools.
This, after the department briefed the committee on issues pointed out by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in their reports.
The reports released by the commission back in 2019 came after the death of a pupil who died at the Christiana School for the Blind following a fire breakout. In 2010, four Christiana pupils also died when a hostel room they had been sleeping in caught fire. The pupils, aged between 8 and 13, died of smoke inhalation and their bodies were found near the door. Following the department’s briefing on Tuesday, it has been resolved that the Basic Education Portfolio Committee will monitor the implementation of the recommendations made by the Human Rights Commission.

These recommendations include that reliable scholar transport for learners with disabilities is provided, that hotels are equipped with adequate infrastructure, and that skilled personnel helps the children with their needs, also that there is training for support staff at hostels.
The SAHRC has, in its report over the state of North West schools, emphasised that the risks that learners at hostels are exposed to “pose a direct and imminent threat to the health and safety of learners with disabilities”, and said the Education Department needs to improve the state of schools in the province, particularly those for children with special needs.

The Portfolio Committee in a statement confirms one of the SAHRC’s recommendations is that the Basic Education Department must also produce documents indicating what they are planning to do to ensure an inclusive education system.

“This document must indicate the structural changes that will be made to comply with section 24 of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) to ensure that people with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system because of their disability”.
The Committee has vowed to ensure that there is progress and that recommendations made by the SAHRC are implemented.

Source: OFM News

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