National dyslexia network on the cards

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Social Development Deputy Minister, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, has welcomed civil society organisations’ initiatives to work towards the launch of the national dyslexia network, the first organisation in the disability sector in South Africa.

Dyslexia is a general term that describes difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but does not affect general intelligence.

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.

As such, dyslexia falls within the broader category of ‘invisible’ disabilities as it is not obvious or easily identifiable.

Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu said that the need for early identification and recognition of dyslexia in South Africa remains pressing, as there is very little understanding and barely any intervention measures for dyslexic learners in 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,” the Deputy Minister said.

She also noted that dyslexia is not necessarily a barrier to success as there are many bright and creative individuals with dyslexia, like Njabulo Mabaso, founder of VelaNjabulo Foundation, which is based at Umlazi south of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

The foundation is an advocacy organisation 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. 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,” the Deputy Minister said. –