Mekgoe, Omphile Tshegofatso

In 2001, the government implemented Inclusive Education (IE), with the aim of integrating children with special needs in mainstream schools. However, the guidelines on IE that were put in place to implement the system, including other school guidelines from Department of Education, do not include learners with chronic lung disease carrying mobile oxygen. To answer the research question, ‘Is it ethically justifiable to exclude children carrying mobile oxygen in school guidelines?’, I searched for literature on children carrying mobile oxygen, both nationally and internationally. I also explored the legal framework with regard to the right to education and integrating children with special needs in mainstream schools. I reported that the right to basic education is a fundamental right. Everyone has the right to education without being discriminated against and any kind of discrimination is unlawful and unethical. I applied the Utilitarian and Deontology moral theories, and focused on Kant’s Categorical Imperative to support the argument, it is unethical to exclude learners carrying mobile oxygen in the school guidelines. I also used ethical principles such as autonomy, maleficence, non-maleficence, and justice to support my assertion. The implications of excluding children carrying mobile oxygen in school guidelines is also discussed. I conclude that everyone has the right to basic education. It is the responsibility of the state to make sure that the 4As of the right to education, i.e., availability, accessibility, adaptability and acceptability, are achieved. Therefore, children carrying mobile oxygen must be included in the school guidelines like all other children with other barriers to learning have been included.
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Medicine in the branch of Bioethics and Health Law, Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics