South African Universities Denying Admission Due to Disabilities

April 18, 2013

In a common, albeit unconstitutional practice, many higher education facilities in South Africa have been turning down the admission of prospective students simply due to their disabilities. This is against the law, and the country's Deputy Minister of the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, has been visiting many universities since early 2012 in the hopes to ensure their compliance of disability access principles and to promote and protect the rights of students and employees with disabilities.

South African law states that at least 2% of the positions at companies and employing organizations should be held by people with disabilities. One university that has garnered much press lately, Vaal University of Technology (VUT), a higher education facility that employs over 2,000 people, does not have one person on its staff who is disabled. That is unacceptable to Bogopane-Zulu.

"...the deadline has been postponed four times to 2015, yet we still have an institution like the VUT with zero percent achievement of the target,” she criticizes.

There is some encouragement about this sad situation, however. It appears that the universities that have been visited are welcoming of the recommendations that are made, and of the clarification of the target goal. As one vice chancellor puts it, Bogopane-Zulu's visit "...has sensitized us in a lot of areas regarding disability, now we know the things that we must do as an institution".


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