FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                             2 DECEMBER 2021


Has the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE) promise of “No child left behind” been kept?

 Education White Paper 6: Special Needs Education – Building an inclusive education system laid the foundation for the DBE’s intended transformation of our education system into an inclusive one. Twenty years on, the implementation timeframes outlined in White Paper 6 have come to an end, with many of the targets set remaining unachieved. Thus, despite the lofty goals set out in White Paper 6, an inclusive education system continues to elude us.

The Equal Education Law Centre’s (EELC) report, “Let in or left out: a twenty year review of the regulatory framework for inclusive education and its implementation in South Africa”, will be launched this Friday, 3 December 2021. The report examines the extent to which White Paper 6 has been implemented, contains extensive findings on whether South Africa has achieved its goal of establishing an inclusive education system, and identifies the gaps that remain to be filled in order to do this.

More particularly, the report calls for, amongst other things: clear legal entitlements in respect of inclusive education; the clarification of admissions laws and policies to ensure access to schools for all learners; strengthening of the determination and implementation of reasonable accommodations in ordinary schools; and  improved monitoring and accountability mechanisms in order to optimise critical support structures, including special school resource centres and school and district-based support teams. Perhaps most importantly, the report identifies one of the greatest challenges to the establishment of an inclusive education system – the serious lack of funding and effective funding models necessary to support all learners in ordinary inclusive schools – and calls for the finalisation of a full-costed, enforceable funding model for inclusive education.


On 22 and 23 November 2021, the DBE held an inclusive education summit to reflect on the progress made since the promulgation of White Paper 6 and to “engage meaningfully on the barriers that have hampered access to education for children with disabilities.” One of the key outcomes of the summit was the development of a National Action Plan to ensure full inclusion and participation. After twenty years, with far too little progress to show, we no longer see the need for more action PLANS, but instead call for ACTION now. The Preamble to our Constitution states that “South Africa belongs to all that live in it, united in our diversity”. This report is therefore aimed at opening dialogue, creating a space and lever for advocacy and providing practical recommendations to the DBE to enable its plans to be translated into clear action that does not merely pay lip service to our Constitutional vision.

The launch will begin with presentations on the report findings, followed by discussion, led by panelists Robyn Beere (Deputy Director of EELC), Charlene Petersen (National Programmes Manager of Inclusive Education South Africa), and Nicola Deghaye (PhD candidate in Economics at the University of Stellenbosch and author of the chapter in the report on funding), and will be moderated by Zita Hansungule (Centre for Child Law). Jonas Ndlovu, a Matric learner at Filadelfia LSEN in Pretoria, will be a guest speaker. The launch will be followed by a brief press conference.


For more information about the report please contact:

Robyn Beere, Deputy Director, EELC, 082 927 2996

For more information about the event please contact:

Yasmina Shabodien at