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Media Release

Monday, 21 January, 2002

WCED to open Khayelitsha school for learners needing special care

Statement by André Gaum, Minister of Education, Western Cape.

The Western Cape Education Department will open the first school for learners with special education needs in Khayelitsha on Wednesday, 23 January, 2002.

I will visit the school in today (Monday, 21 January 2002) to check on preparations to open the centre.

The visit will form part of a programme of visits to schools this week to learn more about preparations for the start of the 2002 school year in the Western Cape.

The Khayelitsha school will occupy currently unused premises previously used by a primary school in Makabeni Road in the township.

The school will be known as the Khayelitsha School for Learners with Special Education Needs, pending a final decision on the name by the school’s governing body.

Contractors are currently working on converting the school to provide suitable classrooms and workshops for the teaching programme.

Eventually the school will consist of different sections designed to cater for learners with different special teaching needs.

Initially, the school will school will cater mainly for intellectually impaired children whose needs cannot be met in conventional schools.

The aim of this school will be to give these specific learners an opportunity to develop a sense of their self worth, and to provide them with skills that will enable them to operate as independently as possible in the future.

The establishment of the school is the realisation of a longstanding dream to establish a school for learners with special education needs (LSEN) in Khayelitsha.

The school also represents a significant step towards ensuring equal access to facilities of this kind.

While the WCED’s LSEN centres are serving all population groups, the Khayelitsha school is the first of its kind in the township.

The WCED plans to provide specialised education support for about 12 000 learners at 77 LSEN schools across the province this year.

The school in Khayelitsha will accommodate between 100 and 120 learners. They will not arrive at the same time on Wednesday. Other schools will typically refer learners to our Education Management and Development Centres who will then refer the learner to the WCED’s Director of Specialised Education for assessment.

The Director will then decide whether to place the child in an LSEN school, in consultation with the parents and other specialists.

The school will begin with a staff of 14 who have received initial training and orientation by the WCED’s LSEN specialists. Their training will continue on a weekly basis.

The first learners at the school will occupy facilities that have already been completed. The school will accommodate more learners as more facilities become available.

Special features of the school will include ramps for wheelchairs and toilets that can accommodate wheelchairs.

Regretfully, the building was vandalised during the summer holidays, and we will ask the WCED’s Safe Schools programme to investigate and implement the necessary security arrangements. Meanwhile, we will repair the damage caused by the vandals.

We look forward to working with the community and other partners on ensuring the success of this school. This will range from community support to ensure the school’s security to professional assistance and voluntary support from members of the public.

In particular, I would like to acknowledge the contribution the Cape Mental Health Society has already made to ensure the success of this project.

The establishment and operation of a school of this kind is an expensive undertaking, and we will welcome support of all kinds, including training support, monetary donations, transport, food, clothing, learning support materials, medicines, sports equipment, specialised services, maintenance support, and voluntary assistance.

While schools of this kind usually have special fundraising bodies assisting them, this does not yet apply to the Khayelitsha school. Those wishing to assist in this regard can contact the Director of Specialised Education Services of the WCED, Dr Matthi Theron, at tel (021) 467-2557/8), fax (021) 467-2610, or email mtheron@pawc.wcape.gov.za.

This school will meet the desperate needs of children very much in need of our care and support. We are believe that the school will make an important contribution to community development and we call on the local community and the public at large to give it every possible support.

Issued by:
The Communications Directorate
Western Cape Education Department
Private Bag X9114
Cape Town 8000
Tel: (021) 467-2531
Fax: (021) 467-2363
Email: pattwell@pawc.wcape.gov.za
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