The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has urged government to emulate an inclusive education model being used at a private school in Limpopo to accommodate learners with special needs. Officials have visited Mitchell House School in Polokwane, which has an enrichment centre for learners with intellectual and physical disabilities.

Learners follow a specialised curriculum and have their own teachers, but they also integrate with those in the mainstream school. Commissioner Bokankatla Malatji says their investigations have revealed that conditions at both public mainstream and special schools puts children with disabilities at a disadvantage.

“Most of the schools were lacking in so many respects in terms of infrastructure for children with disabilities. We also found at some of the schools that some of the teachers or the school did not have necessary support staff. Now we have learned that there was a school that was really a good example of how children with disabilities are being catered for.”

Chief Director for Curriculum Services in the Limpopo Education Department, Cebile Khanye says in addition to 34 special schools, the province has 21 schools offering inclusive education. She however says financial constraints make it difficult for public schools to be on par with private ones.

“We cannot afford the small class like here, which is the ideal, which we all want to move towards as government. But we are currently implementing the White Paper on inclusive education. We have started with the full service schools which cater for the ordinary mainstream learners together with learners with moderate disabilities. But we can do better if we have the necessary resources.”