Government needs to prioritise disabled children and “redress the imbalance” by including them in legislation as the Children’s Act barely accommodated them, experts say.
The National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities (NCPD) claimed these children fell through the cracks with the Act, the only piece of legislation that related to them.
Although the children were mentioned in the Act, these were “brief and inadequate, and hardly in line with the magnitude of their vulnerability”, especially in areas such as proper healthcare and education, the body said.
Nearly 600,000 disabled children did not have access to schools, the NCPD said.
Although the Constitution provides for all children to receive an education, the question was whether the government had ensured that there was an adequate implementation of this, said Robyn Beere, deputy-director of Equal Education Law Centre.
“Disabled children will remain a marginalised group until the government prioritises them. One big achievement was when President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed it in his State of the Nation speech, saying they will be prioritised.”
More policies relating to these children needed to be implemented and government needed to commit to implementing them, she said.
Referring to the Act, the NCPD’s Andre Kalis said “it is within the minister of social development’s power to create a strategy, but without a mandate, the minister is not legally obligated to do so.
“Why this has not yet happened is troubling.”
The NCPD called on the minister to develop such a strategy.