Hon House Chair, the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education convened a meeting with the North West Department of Education, SA Human Rights Commission and the Department of Basic Education. This was done in order to investigate progress made in the implementation of recommendations emanating from SA Human Rights Commission Report on the North West investigative hearing into the lack of safety and security measures in schools for children with the disabilities. The focus area of the meeting engagement included the following set of issues: the access to education for learners with disabilities, enrolment of learners in special schools per province, enrolment of learners with disabilities in public ordinary schools, distribution of special schools, special schools resources centre, school infrastructure including hostels, and special schools funding.
Since the release of the report the SA Human Rights Commission on the lack of safety and security measures in schools for children with disabilities in the North West Province, the Department of Basic Education has taken significant steps to ensure the proper processing of the recommendations of the report. In 2014, the Department of Basic Education promulgated the policy on Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support which provides a policy framework for the standardisation of the procedure to identify access and provide support programmes for all learners who require additional support.
The policy guides officials and teachers in not accessing only the intrinsic factors in the child, but also examines other titles of various for learners and development. The procedures and processes in the policy are intended to benefit all learners who require support, not just learners who have a disability. This places at the centre the importance of ensuring equitable access to quality education for all learners. To date the progressive rollout of the policy on Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support, Sias, has reached 5 821 officials and 113 204 teachers with the current development in the early childhood development space. The plan is to institutionalise Sias from the ages of zero to six years of age to ensure early identification and intervention.
The focus on the early childhood development is based on the fact that the early childhood development, ECD, provides the intellectual, physical and emotional foundation for all future investments and nation could make it human capital and thus dictates the rate of return of schooling, technical and vocational training and university education. This led to the initiative called teaching for all, mainstreaming inclusive education in South Africa. The teaching for all intervention aims to strengthen the capacity to pre-service and in-service teachers to recognise and respond effectively to the educational needs of children thereby contributing a more inclusive education system.
Education White Paper seeks special needs education building an inclusive education and system training 2001, direct on how the country must go about building a single inclusive system of education and training. The policy signals critical steps to transform and strengthen the education system on enable early identification on intervention on barriers on learning and development. By the end of 2018, provincial education department has already designated to 848 public ordinary schools into full service schools. This has exceeded the sector targeted of 624 full service schools by 2018, by 26,4%.
In 2016, the National Treasury awarded the Department of Basic Education a conditional grant to the value of R477 million over the period of 2017. The strategic goal of the grant is to ensure that learners with severe to profound international disability access the quality public funded education and support. It focused on the Foundation Phase and Grade 9 and continued to Intermediate Phase and Grade 10 in January 2016, and the Senior Phase and Grade 11 in January 2017, and in Grade 12 in 2018.
The portfolio committee is convinced that the Basic Education sector is committed to the principle. Every learner matters and is thus committed to building an inclusive education and training system which will ensure that no learner is left behind, significant steps have been taken in this regard although challenges remain given that the size of the backlog with which the democratic administration has had to deal. However, the portfolio committee will make follow-up through oversight visit in order to track progress in all provinces including the North West. It is our hope that the current initiatives which will lead a better basic education system for all our children. I, therefore, move that the House accepts the report. [Applause.]
There was no debate.