The ministry responsible for persons with physical impairments has called for support systems to be put in place to enable learners with special needs to graduate from lower grades to matric and beyond.
During her visit to the Athlone School for the Blind in Bellville, Minister for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya, noted that while the pass rate from special schools was good, the number of learners registered for matric remained low.
She was at the school to wish Grade 12 learners good luck for their examinations.
"Education is the only tool that can pull our children out of various challenges they are facing and open new opportunities for their future," she said.
Nationally, a total of 872 learners enrolled in special schools wrote matric examination last year; 697 of them passed, which represents a close to 80 percent pass rate.
In Athlone School for the Blind, the 12 matriculants last year produced a 100 percent pass rate, with the school remaining one of the best in the whole district.
Mayende-Sibiya said she was glad that the school has increased the number of learners registered for matric to 32 this year.
She said the department was insisting that all new schools that are being built by government should be accessible to children with disabilities as required by the new National School Infrastructure Norms.
"This will be in line with South Africa's commitment to achieve the full enjoyment of all human rights, including the right to education by children with disabilities on an equal basis with other children," Mayende-Sibiya said.
She said that the Inclusive Education Policy is being implemented on an incremental basis, with the main aim of the programme being to introduce a number of systemic measures, which would lay the foundation for a system-wide implementation of the policy.
"In piloting the policy, 30 mainstream schools were selected for conversion into full-service schools to serve as models of full-inclusivity. Another 34 special schools were selected for upgrading and conversion into resource centres to support the mainstream schools.
"District-based Support Teams were established and trained to provide support services in an integrated way, thus maximizing existing services through coordination and inter-sectoral collaboration," said the minister.
While some schools started with their final examination on Monday, Athlone learners will only start writing their first paper on Wednesday.
Nationally, learners will be sitting for History Paper One, Maritime Economics, Equine Studies and Foreign Languages.
Mayende-Sibiya also visited Jan Kriel School learners to wish them luck. - BuaNews