Law 21/2012, Article 22 refers to inclusive education as education of people with disabilities.
The 2007–15 Strategic Plan for the Development of Special Education in Angola reflected a commitment to inclusive education based on the principles of attention to diversity and quality education. It urged a change in national consciousness towards disability to eliminate taboos, stigma, labels and discrimination in society. This change, in turn, is expected enable the building of inclusive schools in which everyone can study together. The education system is tasked with recognizing the learning potential of every individual and maximizing their potential through education. The plan defines special education as a modality of education, transversal to all subsystems, with the mission of serving all persons with special educational needs, transitional or permanent, and integrating them in education and in society.
Special education was implemented by the Decree No. 56/79. For the first 15 years, special schools were created for children with visual, hearing and mental impairments and were completely disconnected from the regular education system. After 1994, there was an attempt to include these children in regular schools in either special or integrated classrooms.
The new National Policy for Special Education oriented towards School Inclusion (Presidential Decree No. 187/17) collected data from 2015. According to this policy, there were:
- 22 provincial special schools, covering 15 provinces;
- 816 inclusive schools
- 28,467 students reported with special education needs (including 8,237 with intellectual disability, 6,999 with hearing impairment, 3,134 with physical disability and 2,868 with visual impairment), under the management of the Ministry of Education.
The National Policy for Special Education oriented towards School Inclusion aims to ensure the right of access, participation and permanence of students with disabilities in the formal education system. This means that regular schools are open to diversity in the classroom and are inclusive.
In accordance with this policy, specialized educational services (SES) are available in multifunctional resource rooms. There are 29 such offerings in 8 provinces, including 17 in Luanda’s province. However, the SES should be expanded to include the most deprived and remote areas and be in line with the present policy of school inclusion (thus also providing training for educators and managers and the supply of materials and equipment).
Presidential Decree No. 187/17 states that in the current context, pupils with disabilities are not yet included in mainstream schools and there is only partial integration. In the process of school inclusion for children with special needs, special schools will gradually move to inclusion support centres with the aim of supporting all general education schools (with professionals and materials). The SES will be in each school and may be provided on an itinerant basis.
The 2010 Constitution of the Republic of Angola mentions that the State has the fundamental task ‘to promote policies that will ensure universal access to compulsory free education’. The Constitution guarantees the principle of equality and no discrimination (Art. 21 and 23), recognizes the right to education for all (Art. 79), and supports and promotes special education (Art. 83). The State will promote and support special education and technical and vocational training for disabled citizens.
Two legal instruments originally guided the education system, the 2001 Basic Law of the Education System (whose Article 43 defined special education as a modality of the education system for individuals with special educational needs, in particular those with sensory, mental or behavioural disorders and gifted students) and the 2001–15 Integrated Strategy for the Improvement of the Education System, which defined special education as the set of educational and instructive activities and services intended for those who, given their pathological characteristics, are in need of specific assistance. In 2016, the government adopted a new basic law which extended compulsory, free education from six to nine years).
Children with disabilities used to be seen as patients without the same education rights as other children. Emphasis was placed on their medical needs and they were often isolated from their families and society. In 1994, the project Promotion of Education Opportunities for the Rehabilitation of Vulnerable Children aimed to enable children with special educational needs to access regular schools in special classrooms or integrated classrooms. The first phase covered three provinces (Luanda, Benguela and Huíla) and, in 2000, the second phase extended to the provinces of Huambo and Bié. Integration later became extensive throughout the country.
The right to education for people with disabilities is guaranteed by Law 21/12: According to Article 22, ‘The State is responsible for adopting the specific measures necessary to ensure the access of persons with disabilities to inclusive education, through the provision of resources and appropriate instruments for learning and communication.’ The law also dictates that special education shall be provided in institutions of general education, institutions for adult education or other institutions, under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and Culture. Special education in Angola is governed by its own diploma.
The following legal instruments concern the education needs of children and young people with disabilities:
- Decree 56/79 on special education
- Law 13/02 on basic social protection
- Law 7/04 on scholarships for disabled students with good academic results
- Decree-Law 2/08 on equal treatment and opportunities for young people with disabilities in their search for a first job
- Presidential Decree 237/11 of 30 August, on the approval of the Policy on Handicapped Persons
- Presidential Decree 238/11 on the Strategy for the Protection of Persons with Disabilities
- Law 21/12 on the habilitation, rehabilitation and participation of persons with disabilities in social life
- Presidential Decree 1057/12 on the establishment of the National Council of Disabled Persons
- Presidential Decree 207/14 on the intervention strategy for the social inclusion of children with disabilities
The 2007–15 Strategic Plan for the Development of Special Education in Angola tried to meet the most pressing needs for the education for students with disabilities through several objectives:
- Raise awareness about the right to education of children with transitional or permanent special educational needs
- Build basic conditions for the development and consolidation of special education
- Ensure harmonious development of special education throughout the national territory
- Strengthen development of human resources in special education
- Create school inclusion resource centres in all provinces.
The National Policy for Inclusive Education is expected to benefit more than 23,000 children with disabilities in pre-primary and primary education. Implementation of the policy is underway, and improved understanding of entry points to the education system and teacher training should help increase participation of children with disabilities in regular classes. The 2018–22 National Development Plan envisions an equitable education system and recognizes the need to work harder to ensure an inclusive quality education for all children regardless of their differences.
By 2022, 30,000 children with special education needs will be integrated into regular schools through the National Policy for Special Education. The policy will be implemented in 6,000 primary schools across the country. The government expects to transform the special schools into support centres, which will provide guidance and support for the inclusion of children with disabilities into regular schools and provide capacity building and training for teachers.
Gender equality is enshrined in the Constitution, while Angola ratified the SADC protocol on Gender and Development in 2010. Article 14 on gender equality in education states that state parties shall by 2015 enact laws that promote equal access to and retention in primary, secondary, tertiary, vocational and non-formal education and adopt and implement gender-sensitive educational policies and programmes addressing gender stereotypes in education and gender-based violence, among other issues.
In 2013, the National Policy for Equality and Gender Equity was adopted. In February 2019, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women considered the country's seventh periodic report on the implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The Committee expressed concerns over the access of girls to education, including science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as different forms of violence that often excluded girls from education.
The 2018–22 National Development Plan, which committed to promoting a culture of gender equality, aspired to eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2017 and at other educational levels by 2025.
People living in rural or remote areas
Special education programmes have been initiated to respond to the needs of nomadic people in the provinces of Namibe, Huíla and Cunene.
Ethnicity and language
According to the Constitution, while Portuguese is the official language, the State values and promotes ‘the study, teaching and use of other Angolan languages, in addition to the main international languages of communication’. One of the priorities of the 2018–22 National Development Plan, in the perspective of Angola 2025, is ‘to promote … national unity and cohesion on the basis of ethnolinguistic diversity’ and ‘to promote spaces and contents in national languages and programs aimed at vulnerable rural and public populations’.
With support from UNICEF and UNHCR, there are efforts to address the refugee influx from the Democratic Republic of Congo in terms of advocacy to provide protection and access to birth registration for children born in Angola. UNHCR tried to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Education to meet the educational needs of 12,000 refugee children, including children with disabilities in existing and new camps. Three schools with facilities will be built to welcome the students, and teachers will be trained.
The National Institute for Special Education coordinates development of special education policies and is responsible for people with special educational needs (transitional or permanent).
Angola is a unitary country with two levels of sub-national governments: 18 provinces and 162 municipalities. The Constitution also recognizes sub-municipal entities, such as ‘traditional authorities’. Municipalities are further divided into 532 communes for administrative purposes. The competences allocated to each level of government are defined in the Constitution (art. 219) and the Local Administration Law 02/07. Provinces are responsible for the promotion and orientation of education (primary education and literacy). Municipalities have been independent budget units since 2007.
Infrastructure and services
The 2007–15 Strategic Plan for the Development of Special Education in Angola considered building and rehabilitating basic infrastructure for the development of special education as one of its priorities.
The Ministry of Education is currently discussing a new law on curricular policy for pre-primary, primary and secondary education. According to the National Institute for Research and Development of Education, the document improves the design of curriculum development and evaluation to promote and ensure an inclusive and quality education.
UNICEF engaged the Rodrigo Mendez Institute on Inclusive Education in Brazil to adapt a series of booklets on inclusive education (‘The Right of Children with Disabilities to Education: A rights-based approach to inclusive education’).
The Strategic Plan for the Development of Special Education set out to improve the qualifications of special education teachers. It envisaged developing a comprehensive teacher training program in school inclusion.
The new inclusive education policy is structured around three main objectives: training education professionals, setting up support centres for inclusion and expanding multifunctional resource rooms.
There have been modules on continuous training of special school teachers. In two teacher training colleges, inclusive classes ensure that students with special educational needs can follow the academic training.
The new National Policy for Special Education oriented towards School Inclusion (Presidential Decree No. 187/17) states that, under the Angola–Brazil cooperation agreement, 1,668 teachers were trained in special education from an inclusive perspective. However, the same document notes (a) the persistence of attitudinal and communication as well as physical barriers, (b) little technical and professional preparation of most educational agents and (c) shortcomings in providing support to pupils with special needs.
Angola has no annual monitoring report and there is no evidence of indicators that monitor inclusive education. According to the report to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2019, the National Institute of Special Education had begun early work in collecting and processing statistical data in 2008.