Regression analysis of Annual School Survey enrolment data shows that full-service schools were 23 to 34% more likely to report disability enrolment than other ordinary schools in 2011, 2013 and 20141. However, although full-service schools were doing better than ordinary schools, 45 to 53% of full-service schools did not enrol any learners with disabilities in 2013.
Many full-service schools were either not actively identifying or enrolling learners with disabilities or were not adequately reporting enrolment. This substantial gap suggests that enrolment reporting has not been used to monitor the performance of full-service schools and to hold them to account in the past.
The data shows that substantial investment will be needed to ensure that all full-service schools have at least one wheelchair-accessible toilet by 2030 (as required by the 2013 school norms). However, this is only one aspect of Physical accessibility. Disability accessibility of schools needs to be assessed much more thoroughly than in SMS 2017. In healthcare, simplified disability-accessibility checklists have been shown to be a useful tool for rapidly assessing disability accessibility of clinics (Hanass-Hancock et al., 2023). A similar tool should be developed for schools.
The gaps identified in this study are closely linked to the lack of additional funding for full-service schools. If full-service schools are to remain as a key strategy for inclusive education,
1. The 2018 draft funding guidelines relating to full-service schools must be finalised and converted into funding norms urgently,
2. Funding should be made available immediately, as the budget impact is small. Funding of full-service schools cannot be implemented in a phased manner, as suggested to parliament (Department of Basic Education, 2020), and
3. The role of full-service schools and designation of individual schools must be more clearly
communicated by DBE.If these conditions cannot be met, the full-service school strategy should be immediately abolished.