South Africa


Disabled Eastern Cape learner desperate for grade 8 placement after years-long wait

Disabled Eastern Cape learner desperate for grade 8 placement after years-long wait
Cikizwa Ntlali missed five years of school while receiving medical treatment for a spinal condition that has left her paralysed. (Photo: Supplied by GroundUp)

Cikizwa Ntlali is kept waiting for a place in high school, after five years of treatment for a spinal condition.

Cikizwa Ntlali, 18, from Mgojweni Village in rural Eastern Cape, finished grade 7 last year. For years she was unable to attend school as she underwent medical treatment for a spinal condition that left her paralysed.

She is a bright learner, having received a good report card for last year. But although she is now supposed to be in grade 8, there are no suitable high schools to accommodate her in her area. She needs hands-on assistance.

The closest special needs school is in East London, a five-hour drive from the village. A return trip to Elliotdale costs up to R800.

Traditional leader Nosintu Gwebindlala helped Cikizwa attend assessments with the Department of Education’s specialists in Elliotdale, so that she could get onto the waiting list for the school.

Cikizwa has now completed all assessments and, according to Gwebindlala, was hoping to be placed in the school in August. But she is still waiting.

Spokesperson for the Eastern Cape Department of Education Malibongwe Mtima told GroundUp that he is unable to comment on Cikizwa’s individual case.

Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations

“Trust me, we will get to her,” he said as he explained the MEC for Education’s new drive to ensure that children with disabilities across the province are enrolled at schools.

Because of a lack of capacity at the district level, the drive is being coordinated at the provincial level, with a specialist team visiting each district in the province over a few months. Mtima said that Amathole District, where Cikizwa is from, will be visited at the end of October.

Mtima explained that there is a shortage of specialist skills at district level, which makes it difficult for the department to deal with the backlog of cases.

Because of this, he says, and because of stigma about disability which deters parents from enrolling their children in school, it is difficult to gather data. The department currently does not know how many learners have disabilities in rural Eastern Cape.

Mtima also said that the department is moving away from “special needs” schools and towards “inclusive full-service schools”. He could not say how many schools in the Eastern Cape had become inclusive full-service schools. DM

First published by GroundUp.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

Make your taxes work for you

Donate to Daily Maverick’s non-profit arm, the Scorpio Investigative Unit, by 29 February 2024 and you’ll qualify for a tax break.

We issue Section 18A tax certificates for all donations made to Daily Maverick. These can be presented to SARS for tax relief.

Make your donation today

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick The Gathering 2024 banner

Daily Maverick has secured an esteemed speaker line-up...

to help make sense of Elections 2024.

Trevor Manuel, Prof Thuli Madonsela and Minister Ronald Lamola are among the latest panellists confirmed for Daily Maverick The Gathering Twenty Twenty-Four.

Join us, on Thurs 14 March 2024 at CTICC Cape Town or online wherever you are, for an event that will put the election in perspective.

Become a Maverick Insider

This could have been a paywall

On another site this would have been a paywall. Maverick Insider keeps our content free for all.

Become an Insider