James Masango MPL
Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition
The DA in Mpumalanga scored a decisive victory for parents with children with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities, with the provincial Department of Education’s decision to convert the Vaal River Child and Youth Care Centre in Standerton into a school for special needs learners.
The Department made the announcement during a portfolio committee meeting on the 2013/2014 budget, and that it would focus more on the needs of learners who cannot cope in mainstream schools.
The DA’s sustained pressure for specialised tutelage for learners suffering from these disabilities has finally paid off, with government’s decision to incorporate Inclusive Education and Education Support (IEES) into its Annual Performance Plan (APP) for 2013/14.
Accordingly there will now also be 140 full-service schools to accommodate such learners, special programmes for early identification of learners with learning barriers, preventative and intervention support structures, as well as capacity building of teachers.
Furthermore, government has also promised to revive 15 technical schools across the province – a fundamental requirement given that many learners with barriers follow careers in the technical field. This of course provides the necessary foundation to train as artisans, a skills base in desperate need across South Africa.
The DA believes that this programme, if implemented effectively, will ensure that over 18 000 learners in the province enjoy access to much improved economic and social prospects.