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Sunday, December 5, 2021

OPINION: The value of education and inclusion


Every child is born with an ability and the onus lies with us – parents, teachers and community members – to invest in the child and unleash their talents so that we can develop them to their maximum potential.

My name is SIzi Botsime. I am an educationist, an education activist and an inclusive education enthusiast.  I work in a full-service school, and I have established networks with different stakeholders across the globe including those in NGOs, in the education professions, and companies in order to help our education institutions become inclusive.

I have been teaching for over 10 years.

I have taught in South Africa, the Kingdom of Bahrain, in the Middle East and in Egypt.

I am the founder and director of the Sizi Botsime Foundation

The Sizi Botsime Foundation (SFB) primarily advocates and promotes the rights of children living with a disability.

My advocacy is aligned with frameworks including the White Paper 6 of 2001, the paper titled the Screening Identification Assessment and Support (SIAS) of 2014 and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #4 – Quality Education of the United Nations.

READ: Ramaphosa: ‘We Need To Tackle Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities’

The SFB notion of inclusive education encompasses the idea and belief of equal and quality education for all.

Just to give a brief background about the frameworks mentioned above, the two policies are in place in the South African education system.

The 2001 White Paper 6 document outlines how the education and training system must transform itself to contribute to establishing a caring and humane society, how it must change to accommodate the full range of learning needs and the mechanism that should be put in place.

The SIAS 2014 ‘s purpose is to provide a framework for the standardisation of the procedures to identify, assess and provide programmes for all learners who require additional support to improve their participation and inclusion in school.

Lastly, the Sustainable Development Goal 4, which is part of the United Nations plan of action for people, planet, and prosperity, is the education goal. Its objective is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

SDG Target 4A refers to the importance of building and upgrading education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive, and effective learning.

This is why it is saddening that even with these policies that have been put in place in different countries across the African continent, policies that speak to “inclusion for all” are yet to be found.  Children living with a disability or with disabilities continue to be failed and marginalised in Africa.

In South Africa for instance, some children have never experienced being inside a classroom as a result of their disability.

This is particularly true for children from downtrodden communities.

According to the 2017 Disability Africa Changing Children’s Lives, an overwhelming majority of children in Africa are being deprived of access to education. Furthermore, only around 2% of the children living with a disability are attending schools.

This suggests that current measures put in place are not good enough and this situation must change, reads the document.

I share the same sentiments that this has to change.

This is in accordance with the policies that are put in place and promote inclusive education, as well as the adoption of the United Nation’s Convention on Disability Rights by the African governments.

Our foundation believes that the plausible solution lies in the realisation of inclusive education; the understanding that the education of the children goes beyond the four walls of the classroom.

We are all responsible for the education of the children and thus we need to involve the stakeholders to capacitate the education systems across Africa and ensure that no child is left behind.

SIzi Botsime is an Educationist, Education Activist and Inclusive Education Enthusiast.

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