A 15-year-old child spent 2013 without an education. Despite the great lengths her grandmother went to, she was unable to be placed in school because of her disabilities. There is a shortage of places for children with special needs.
Ntombekhaya (not her real name) from Philippi has a 15-year-old granddaughter who she takes care of while the child’s mother works in Johannesburg.
“It’s been quite a tough journey getting Nombulelo a school, and even the one that she is in now, it wasn’t easy getting her in there,” she said.
Nombulelo suffers from epilepsy. Since she was a baby, she has been in and out of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. When she was two years old, she suffered a mild stroke, which left her right side unable to function. Her right hand and foot are smaller than her left ones, and she drags her leg when she walks.
“I started looking for a school for Nombulelo at the end of 2012 after I decided that she needed to get an education. Since we live in the township, I asked many people in the area if they knew of a school that they could recommend for her, but most of them said they did not know of any special needs schools around Philippi.
“Even creches for disabled children are scarce in the township, people are not skilled enough to take care of disabled children,” said Ntombekhaya.
Ntombekhaya said another reason she had difficulty getting her granddaughter into school was because she needed to have Nombulelo’s medical records, a letter from her doctor, and she needed to be checked by a psychologist.
Ntombekhaya eventually found a school for her granddaughter in Gugulethu at the Siviwe School of Skills. Nombulelo travels to the school by taxi. Her grandmother says it is not safe, but has trouble finding alternative transport for her.
Siviwe School of Skills was converted from an ordinary public school to the school of skills in 2007. It caters for intellectually challenged learners.
“She is doing really well at Siviwe, and they have taught her to use her hands. She can do woodwork and needlework. She is also able to write and bake. I just wish that the education department can build more schools in the township for children with disabilities, because what is currently available is not enough,” said Ntombekhaya.
Jessica Shelver of the Western Cape Education Department said special schools in the townships included: Tembaletu School, Nompumelelo Special School and Siviwe School of Skills in Gugulethu Noluthando School for the Deaf, La-Thitha School of Skills and Khayelitsha Special Needs School in Khayelitsha.
“Some of the special schools in the surrounding areas are also on bus routes into the township areas. Children with severe and profound intellectual disability are accommodated in special care centres registered and funded by the Department of Health. The education department provides support to these centres via multi-disciplinary teams,” said Shelver.
Parents who require assistance with finding school placement for their children who have special educational needs can contact: Metro East Education District on 021 900 7000 for the Khayelitsha area Metro South Education District office on 021 370 2000 for Nyang and Philippi Metro Central Education District on 021 514 6700 for the Guguletu area.
Source : GroundUp