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African Human Rights Law Journal

On-line version ISSN 1996-2096
Print version ISSN 1609-073X


KAMGA, Serges Djoyou. COVID-19 and the inclusion of learners with disabilities in basic education in South Africa: A critical analysis. Afr. hum. rights law j. [online]. 2020, vol.20, n.2, pp.558-583. ISSN 1996-2096.

This article examines the extent to which basic education, which is compulsory under international law, was inclusive of learners with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end, it examines measures taken by the government to ensure the continuity of basic education and the extent to which these measures are inclusive of learners with disabilities. It argues that moving education to online platforms, and conducting classes via radio and television are not accompanied by related reasonable accommodation measures to ensure the inclusion of leaners with disabilities. Among others, study material and numerous resources, online platforms and media are not in accessible formats, and learners with disabilities do not have access to data or internet broadband. In addition, the parents of these learners with disabilities are not trained to assist their children to study from home. The exclusion from school of learners with special needs is also characterised by a limited number of special schools in the country. In making its case, the article relies on South African and foreign jurisprudence on equality and inclusive education to inform the analysis. Ultimately the article finds that learners with disabilities are not included in the education system in the time of COVID-19. It explores general lessons learned during the pandemic which could be considered as an opportunity to re-think how emergency education planning can be inclusive of children or learners with disabilities in the future. While the discussion focuses on South Africa, lessons learned apply across Africa where persons with disabilities generally are marginalised.

Keywords : COVID 19; disability rights; basic education; inclusive education.

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