Tag Archives: South Africa

Turning Four!

Not everyone is still willing to give persons with disabilities a chance four years after The PWD Forum came about.

In Indonesia for instance, disability is still regarded as a punishment from God. PWDs must be exorcised, tied up at the back of the house (dipasung), confined to a small hut in the backyard, or tied at the wrists and ankles to a tree or heavy log. Disability is also seen as a matter of fate so there is little empathy for PWDs for whom ‘nothing can be done’.

As such, PWDs are excluded from most governments’ planning and support. In Bhutan in particular, its educational policy lack inclusive policy guidelines resulting in unequal opportunities.  Taiwan, on the other hand, has only programs for PWDs with “mild” conditions and the curricula just followed what is being taught in preschool classes.

In South Africa, teachers lack skills and knowledge. In South Korea, teachers know no culturally relevant curricula. In Malaysia, teachers are unprepared in terms of emotional acceptance and technical skills.

It is no wonder then that PWDs are still berated when seeking employment or at work; employers would definitely incur costs from hiring PWDs. Educating them alongside non-PWDs  would not be an easy feat especially that the term ‘inclusion’ itself has no fixed definition even in the western countries from which this concept was realized.

There are also parents who do not understand the meaning of inclusive education till now. Thus, the parents are still anxious with their children attending mainstream schools. Even governments are not sure what the concept really means and how it could be relevant within the local context.

If PWDs and non-PWDs study together, though, there would be no need to build exclusive educational institutions. Adjustment may also come naturally. Maricel Apatan had not been a burden anyway when she was studying a two-year course in Hotel and Restaurant Management in Cagayan de Oro City. She was even hired as a pastry chef at the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel in Manila.

A polio victim, Marc Joseph Escora, had managed his training at the Negros Occidental Language and Information Technology Center (NOLITC) in Bacolod City. Blind, Safiya Mundus had graduated from the Eusebio C. Santos Elementary School.

The PWD Forum could just imagine what else could have happened had Arnel Navales Aba, Godfrey Esperanzate Taberna, Emilia Malinowska, Jose Feliciano, and Mohamed Dalo finish school. Townsely Roberts had at The College of the Bahamas with an associate degree in Accounting and Computer Data Processing in 1995. Gary Russell had, too, at the same college with an associate degree in Law and Criminal Justice then at the University of Buckingham for his bachelor’s and master’s.

It was from his blind father that former interior and local government secretary Jesse Robredo learned discipline. Protecting the integrity and honor of one’s family is of highest importance, his father had said, and children are expected to contribute their share in doing that. So Jesse launched the “Fully Abled Nation,” a program seeking to increase the participation of PWDs in the coming 2013 Philippine midterm elections, roughly three months before he died in a plane crash.

“Hopefully, one day, the notion behind “persons with disability” be somehow erased from the world’s vocabulary and usher-in a day when technology, private & public organizations, and the law work together to give each person equal rights and opportunities, regardless of the person’s impediment.” ~ Atty. Mike Gerald C. David

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Jozelle Tech

Inclusive Education in South Africa

As soon as democracy was established in South Africa, the provision of education for learners with disabilities in the country has become a part of its development. Everyone has the right to “a basic education, including basic adult education; and to further education, which the state through reasonable measures must make progressively available and accessible,” and the state may not discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including disability (Section 29, Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act No. 108 of 1996).

So, in 2001, the Department of Education has come up with a framework that would address the diverse needs of all learners who experience barriers to learning. It asserted that in order to make inclusive education a reality, there must be a conceptual shift regarding the provision of support for learners who experience barriers to learning.

This framework—the Universal Design for Learning (UDL)—has been based in the fields of cognitive science and neuroscience that stipulates how we learn through memory, language processing, perception, problem solving, and thinking. At its heart is the design of goals, methods, materials, and assessments that make it accessible to all students, with disabilities or none.

It came out good; the European Union has come to support the initiative of this country three years after. It placed South Africa on its “best footing,” chief education specialist Marie Schoeman opined in the article “Working Towards Inclusive Education in South Africa.”

“In general there is cohesion between these projects,” she added. “They look at all learners who are experiencing barriers to learning, and improve their chances for through-put, which is a big concern in South Africa, where only a little more than half the learner population which starts in Grade R finishes school because of poverty, neglect and learning difficulties.”

Every child has come to be supplied then with numeracy and literacy workbooks from day one in Grade R to the end of compulsory education in Grade 91. The books were printed on sustainable papers with toxin-free ink and available in all eleven of South Africa’s official languages—including braille and large print—for the price of less than a croissant each.

There has also been “full-service schools2,” one of which is the Isiziba Primary School located in Gauteng’s Ekhuruleni North District. Nonprofit organization Inclusive Education South Africa continues to support and promote positive models of schools and learning centers there.

The remaining problem is teacher necessity, which South Africa solved through its “Teaching and Learning Development (TLD) Sector Reform Program.” It developed a teacher education system in 2015 to assist early childhood development educators, primary school teachers, special needs teachers, technical and vocational education and training lecturers, community education and training lecturers, and the professional development of university academics.

The education system will play a greater role in building an inclusive society, providing equal opportunities and helping all South Africans to realise their full potential, in particular those previously disadvantaged by apartheid policies, namely black people, women and people with disabilities.” ~ South African government’s 2009 National Development Plan


Video taken from the YouTube Channel of World of Inclusion

1This was carried out by printing companies Lebone Litho and Paarl Media, and delivery firm UTI, in 2012. This action resulted in 3,600 permanent jobs and 5,000 temporary ones.

2Full-service schools are those that welcome children with different educational needs.

The ‘Impact Challenge’

A total of $20 million will be offered to nonprofit organizations with projects that increase independence of persons with disabilities (PWDs)!

The grants will be donated by the Google.org. The first will amount to $600,000 for the Enable Community Foundation, a global community that has started from giving a prosthetic hand device to a small child in South Africa. With the money, e-NABLE will be able to give 3D-printed, upper-limb prosthetics to more PWDs!

The second, on the other hand, will be $500,000 for the World Wide Hearing, a non-profit organization that provides affordable hearing aids to PWDs—particularly the children and youth—in developing countries. It plans to use a low-cost smartphone tool to diagnose hearing loss in low-income communities around the world.

It is not the first time Google has involved itself in charitable projects aimed to develop technology for PWDs. Recently, it has invented “Liftware” utensils and other eating and kitchen devices for PWDs with tremors or Parkinson’s. It has also composed an accessibility engineering team that designed a Chrome extension to improve the online experience of people who are color-blind; and another one to disable animation.

“Historically, people living with disabilities have relied on technologies that were often bulky, expensive, and limited to assisting with one or two specific tasks. But that’s beginning to change,” ~ Jacquelline Fuller

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Google UK