The Deputy Minister of Social Development, Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, welcomes initiatives spearheaded by the civil society organisations to work towards the launch of the national Dyslexia Network, the first such organisation in the disability sector in South Africa.
The strategic pillar 6 of the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, approved by Cabinet in 2015 advocates for strengthening the representative voice of persons with disabilities, particularly the under-represented groups whose voice are not heard on existing platforms.
One such is the voice of persons with dyslexia, a general term that describes the difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that does not affect general intelligence. As such dyslexia falls within the broader category of ‘invisible’ disabilities as it is not obvious or easily identifiable.
“The need for early identification and recognition of dyslexia in South Africa remain pressing as there is very little understanding and barely any intervention measures for Dyslexic learners in our schools. Awareness of this learning difficulty remains low across the country. We, therefore, need to generate greater public awareness in order to identify and support persons with Dyslexia and their families,” said Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu.
The Department hosted a strategic planning workshop with 30 young dyslexic activists across the country with the view to assist them to establish a national network organisation that will advocate for the needs and interest of persons with dyslexia. There are many bright and creative individuals with dyslexia.
One of these young activists is Njabulo Mabaso, who was part of the South African delegation that participated in the 2017 Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Njabulo is a founder of the VelaNjabulo Foundation, an advocacy organisation based in Umlazi, Province of KwaZulu-Natal that provides peer counselling and educational support to young people with dyslexia.
The organisation also advocates for better educational support services for learners with dyslexia in ordinary and special schools. Another notable dyslexic activist in South Africa is Sihle Ndlela, a self-made contractor and entrepreneur who was recently selected for the Forbes Africa 30 under 30s list.
“Dyslexia is not necessarily a barrier to success. Sihle Ndlela and Njabulo Mabaso’s personal stories attest to the fact that early identification, combined with the right educational and family support, persons with dyslexia can accomplish great things in life,” added Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu.