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Thursday, 24 September 2015 09:38

Don't deny education to learners with disabilities

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No-one should deny learners with disabilities an opportunity to study, says Higher Education and Training Deputy Minister Mduduzi Manana.

Mduduzi Manana

Addressing learners at Vukuzenzele Special School in Bizana, in the Eastern Cape, on Monday, he shared opportunities available within the Post-School Education and Training (PSET) sector with the learners.

“Learners in a rural setting require exposure to information that is affirming and capable of imparting a ‘can do’ attitude, in a society where the norm is to shield a learner with a disability and consider the ‘disability grant’ provision as the ultimate shield for such learners,” he said.

The Deputy Minister said it is a calculated move that the department, through its entity National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), has dedicated funds to target learners who would like to pursue their studies within the PSET.

“Disability funding exists to enable reasonable accommodation for students with disabilities and for procuring special equipment, devices and technology,” said the Deputy Minister. 

He said the purpose of the Department of Higher Education and Training’s Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities programme is to expose career opportunities within the PSET to learners with disabilities, and further share funding opportunities.

“Research shows that the majority of students with disabilities continue to experience discrimination in the PSET sector. Issues of access, institutional practices that have failed to consider the learning needs of persons with disabilities and their support needs thereof, continue to be a barrier to this sector.

“The department is taking interest in the needs of learners with disabilities, especially around suitable career choices and adequate funding to increase the number of the disabled student population in all sectors,” he said.

At the moment, the Deputy Minister said the proportion of disabled students is roughly estimated to be less than 1% of the total student population in the PSET sector, which is a far cry of the department’s target.

He said learners of the school were exposed to opportunities available within the Sector Education and Training Authority’s (SETAs), the NSFAS, Ingwe TVET College, Buffalo City TVET College, Walter Sisulu University and many other opportunities available within PSET.