Fostering the Inclusion of Disabled Students in Higher Education in South Africa: Some Reflections

by Serges Djoyou Kamga

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Higher education is an important step towards ensuring human development. This was understood by South Africans who included the right to education, and to further education, in their Constitution. Subsequently, the country has adopted various policies to ensure access to higher education for students with disabilities, and this was in line with the spirit of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to which South Africa is a party. Yet disabled students still face barriers to higher education. The article examines these barriers to inclusion for students with disabilities in higher education and proposes solutions to foster their inclusion. To this end, the article reviews legal and policy documents as well as the enforcement of such policies (or lack thereof). It also evaluates the appropriateness of support for students with disabilities in higher education by exploring the practice at various South African universities. It concludes that although policies and legislative measures are in place, it is essential to implement enforcement mechanisms to foster the inclusion of students with disability in higher education. In addition, adequate policy measures should be supplemented by appropriate institutional support structures. The latter should include establishing credible Disability Units and implementing universal learning design methods that comprise planning for accessibility of buildings, flexible curricula, training and awareness of academic and non-academic staff on disability issues.

About the Author

Serges Djoyou Kamga is Associate Professor of Law at the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute, based at the University of South Africa. He holds a PhD in International Human Rights Law from the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa. His research over the years demonstrates a profound and sustained commitment to advancing knowledge about human rights in Africa, especially regarding the right to development, human rights from cross cultural perspectives, and disability rights.

Dr. Djoyou Kamga is the author of The Right to Development in the African Human Rights System (Routledge, 2018) and the co-editor of Perspectives on the Right to Development (Pretoria University Press, 2018). He is also the co-editor of the Cross Cultural Human Rights Review and the African Disability Rights Yearbook, the only journal that focuses on the rights of persons with disabilities in Africa. In spring 2019, Dr. Djoyou Kamga took part in the Visiting Professor/Practitioner Program, hosted by the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice.

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