“Our children have the right to an education too”: Strategies employed by Orange Farm Caregivers of Children with Disabilities in Pursuit of the Right to a Basic Education
Purpose: This paper aims to understand the agency that caregivers who participated in a CBR empowerment component programme exercised, in order to promote the rights of their children with disabilities to a basic education.
Methods: An interdisciplinary theoretical framework and qualitative methodology were used to examine the agency and the opportunity structures within which the caregivers operate. Focus group discussions, case study interviews and secondary Programme data were analysed using manual thematic analysis.
Results: Thousands of children with disabilities in South Africa are effectively denied the right to a basic education as a result of discriminatory norms, stigmatising discourses and unjust power relations. Yet, a group of caregivers have successfully advocated for their children with disabilities in the township of Orange Farm, Gauteng. Their lobbying has contributed to the establishment, by the State, of a new school.
Conclusion and Implications: The findings suggest that human rights advocacy movements, as well as disability organisations, would do well to recognise and encourage the power and agency possessed by caregivers of children with disabilities. Catalysing civic action and providing opportunities for active citizenry and self-help seem to nurture increased efficacy and competence at navigating systems and accessing rights. While advocacy organisations may act as proxy agents, direct and collective agentic strategies should be nurtured. In implementing inclusive education, policy makers and the Department of Education should recognise the role that caregivers of children with disabilities can play, and the potential contribution that their motivation, resourcefulness, and disability-related knowledge can make.
Department of Education (2001) Education White paper 6: Special needs education: Building an inclusive education and training system. Pretoria: DoE.
Department of Social Development, Department of Women Children and People with Disabilities and UNICEF (2012). Children with disabilities in South Africa: A situation analysis: 2001-2011. Pretoria: Department of Social Development/Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities/UNICEF.
Engelbrecht P (2006). The implementation of inclusive education in South Africa after ten years of democracy. European Journal of Psychology of Education; 21(3): 253–264. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF03173414
Gauteng Education Department Johannesburg South District Education Operations & Support Sub-Directorate (2013). Submission for: LSEN school facilities in Orange Farm.Johannesburg: GDE.
Human Rights Watch (2015). Complicit in exclusion: South Africa's failure to guarantee an inclusive education for children with disabilities. New York: Human Rights Watch.
Muthukrishna N, Schoeman M (2000). From 'special needs' to 'quality education for all': A participatory, problem-centred approach to policy development in South Africa. International Journal of Inclusive Education; 4:317. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13603110050168023
Republic of South Africa (1996).The South African Constitution number 108. Government Gazette 17678. Pretoria: Government Printer.
Saloojee G, Phohole M, Saloojee H, Ijsselmuiden C (2007). Unmet health, welfare and educational needs of disabled children in an impoverished South African peri-urban township. Child: Care, Health and Development. 33: 230–235. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2214.2006.00645.x PMid:17439434
Tshoeu A (2015). Community meeting on progress in implementing the Duzenendlela LSEN School. Hosted in Orange Farm: Arekopaneng.
Watermeyer B, Swartz L, Lorenzo T (2006). Disability and social change - A South African agenda. Pretoria: HSRC Press.
United Nations General Assembly (2006). Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities A/RES/61/106. Geneva: United
- There are currently no refbacks.
Copyright (c) 2016 Jean Elphick
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
© Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development