Since 2012, SECTION27 has worked with Siphilisa isiZwa (a community-based organisation representing people with disabilities) and parents of children with disabilities in Manguzi to ensure access to quality education for the children in the area. After a lengthy advocacy process, extensive engagement with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education, and threatening litigation, SECTION27 succeeded in assisting in the placement of 14 children at Sisizakele Special School for the 2015 school year.
Sisizakele is one of three special schools in the Umkhanyakude District of rural northern KZN, including Intuthuko Special School and Khulani Special School. The schools are situated several hours’ drive apart in a deeply rural area. There are also nine full-service schools in the district, including eight primary schools and a single high school. All of the special schools, and some of the full-service schools in the district, were founded by community members after identifying a desperate community need and, in some cases, without any private or public funding or support for many years.
Parents commonly express concerns about being far away from their highly, or totally, dependent children who need significant parental care, raising significant challenges. There are also reports of abuse and neglect in hostels, which is a nationwide issue acknowledged by the DBE, which have been covered extensively in the media in special school hostels in the Umkhanyakude District.
SECTION27 continues to work with the community in the Umkhanyakude District so more children with disibilities can get the safe, quality education they have a right to.