n Law, Democracy & Development - The social model of disability, rights discourse and the impact of South Africa's Education White Paper 6 on access to the basic education system for persons with severe or profound intellectual impairments

Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1028-1053
  • E-ISSN: 2077-4907



Access to quality education and increased access to higher education are two critical factors that can contribute to breaking the inequality cycle in South Africa. This is so because these factors affect earnings and unemployment, which in turn are key drivers of income inequality. Education empowers people to claim and realise other rights, allows them to make informed decisions about the lives they wish to lead, and to contribute to their communities.

The data collected in the 2007 Community Survey conducted by Statistics South Africa suggested that while only 1.9% of children were reported as having a disability, children with disabilities accounted for 10% of all children who were not attending school. By 2009, it was estimated that as many as 467 005 children with disabilities of school-going age were not attending school, an increase of 207 005 from the 260 000 estimated in 2001. Furthermore, children with disabilities were indicated as having a much lower school attendance rate than other children. The National Department of Education estimated that by 2011 108 240 learners with disabilities or impairments were accommodated in 442 special schools that were serviced by 9 585 educators. The number of learners with disabilities in non-special schools is not known. While bearing in mind the challenges to compiling reliable statistics on people with disabilities, these figures are consistent with the corresponding figures in developing countries in that only 2% of disabled children in developing countries receive any schooling.

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