Gauteng to get new schools for learners with special educational needs

Thursday, July 2, 2015

By More Matshediso

Johannesburg - Eighteen new schools which will cater for learners with special educational needs are to be built this financial year in the Gauteng province, says Gauteng Department of Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.

He was addressing educators from schools for learners with special educational needs on Wednesday in Johannesburg.

The educators are currently attending training as part of the 2015 Inclusion Focus Week. The training is aimed at building knowledge and skills of these educators, and also introducing new courses, such as managing challenging behaviour in the classroom and strategies on teaching English to non-English speakers.

MEC Lesufi said this will help address the issue of access to quality education for learners with special educational needs.

“I have been given a very difficult mandate to ensure that in 2016, we must have 18 new schools that must cater for the needs of learners with special needs.

“I get many calls from parents about their children being put on a waiting list for four years or so, and I want to immediately attack that, to ensure that the waiting list is reduced as soon as possible,” he said.

There are currently 102 schools in Gauteng which cater for learners with special educational needs.

MEC Lesufi said he had set a team from the department to identify institutions that are operating in the sector for inclusion, so that the department can give them support that they need.

He said the institutions might not have the capacity to appoint new teachers or construct new buildings.

“We have got the financial muscle to deal with this matter, we just have to strengthen the partnership element of it. If we can have strong partners, I am of the view that it will help us address the issue of access.

“We want to build a very strong diagnostic or identification programme so that we can identify our children at an early stage, and be able to provide guidance as to where they need to go to get support,” he said.

He said the sector was close to his heart and an area which he felt needed his immediate support.

About 4000 people, including educators and education professionals, have been attending the focus week workshop. It started on Monday and will end on Friday.

The MEC said the attendees have committed to dealing with the challenges facing the sector.

“I want to assure them of my support and I will ensure that the needs of this sector are taken care off. I don’t want the needs of this sector to be undermined,” he said.

The MEC said technology will help reduce some of the difficulties faced by the sector. “We have positioned ourselves where any new technology that enters the market, if affordable, we will bring it into our schools.”

The Director for Inclusion and Special Schools at the department, Hester Costa, envisaged that technology will also reduce the impact that disability has on learners.  

Costa said capacity building will be done annually to support educators. The majority of educators in the sector are at NQF level 6 in the province. -

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