Long and hard was the struggle forequal rights. Some did not survive to see the fruits of their labours – manysurvived but are not able to harvest those fruits. And we’re learning this thehard way. How difficult can learning be?

Parents, family members and carers ofchildren with learning disabilities know how difficult and impossible learningcan be. There are others who have no learning disability but still havedifficulty learning. Attitudinal problems, prejudices, unfair treatment and therepeated violating of our human right to accessible learning environmentscreate learning difficulties.

Some learners with disabilities areforced to drop out as some schools lack the finances and governmental supportto enable their schooling. These keen and eager potential learners then becomeunemployed and their disabilities lessen their chances of finding employment.They could become employable if they had access to accessible training,learnerships and skills development which, by the way, is already legislated.But they seldom qualify for learnerships due to their lack of formal schooling.They end up in sheltered employment and or victims of exploitation.

People with disabilities in bigorganisations often end up in boring admin posts in large departments and areoverlooked for promotion as they are not considered competent because of theirlack of learning. If competence is about working with your hands (skills),heart (attitude) and mind (knowledge and understanding) then we have manycompetent candidates around.

The National Qualifications Framework(NQF) was established to redress previous discrimination in education, trainingand employment. There are plenty of opportunities for people with disabilitiesto pursue life long learning goals as set in the principles and guidelines inthe NQF. You may not have Matric but your work experience may qualify you asNQF Level 4 – which is the same as matric. Records of learner achievements areregistered to enable national recognition of acquired skills and knowledge. Goto www.nqf.org.za for more info.

Whatever circumstances have preventedprogress on your learning journey it is important to realise that it is nevertoo late to learn. Whether it is to learn more about yourself, about life or astructured, recognised qualification - it is never too late to learn. There aremany opportunities for learning if one just knows where to find them. Learn howto be an active member of society within your community, your organisation oryour place of worship. Learn how to plant a tree. Learn how to fundraise. Learnhow to empower yourself and others. Let us all learn to embrace the opportunityto learn and continue together on the road of life long learning.