Intellectual Disability Month: focus on children’s educational rights

(Port Elizabeth) – Children with intellectual disability should access their right to the education they deserve if South African mental health organisations get their way during Intellectual Disability Awareness Month.

Throughout March, various organisations will be boosting awareness of and supporting the Rights to Education campaign driven by the South African Federation for Mental Health.

According to a report released by Human Rights Watch in August last year, more than half a million South African children with disabilities are not receiving an education, and those who do attend school are not receiving the level of education they require.

Despite the fact that their rights are enshrined in the South African constitution, many are still alienated from mainstream education. Learners who do attend special schools are often expected to pay fees that children without disabilities do not and those in mainstream schools are often expected to pay for their own class assistants as a condition of attending the school.

Mental health societies across the country are therefore standing together to fight the perception that children with severe or profound intellectual disabilities have few educational needs or little potential.

In Nelson Mandela Bay, for example, Port Elizabeth Mental Health (PEMH) supporters will be putting their physical strength to the test by taking part in the Hobie Beach parkrun on Saturday, March 12. Participants are encouraged to show their support by wearing green on the day.

According to PEMH spokesperson Limeez Arends, education for children with intellectual disabilities can no longer be seen as a “nice to have”. It is an essential service that must be available to all children across South Africa.

For more information about the PE parkrun event, contact:

Limeez Arends
pemhs@global.co.za
041 365 0502