Gauteng department to get behind special schools - MEC

2015-07-01 19:19
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi. (Picture: Simone Kley)

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi. (Picture: Simone Kley)

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Johannesburg - The Gauteng education department on Wednesday said it wanted to build a strong diagnostic programme that would identify children with special educational needs.

Speaking to media at the second annual inclusion focus week in Turffontein, south of Johannesburg, MEC Panyaza Lesufi said once he was exposed to special needs schooling he realised the sector needed his immediate support.

"For me to be here is heartwarming," he said, admitting that when he first took over the responsibilities of the department, it was not part of his priority as he was not exposed to it.

"My visit here is to say to the leadership of the department: This is close to my heart and it will get my support at all times."

He wanted to build a "very strong" diagnostic and identification programme so children with special educational requirements could be identified at an early age, and provide guidance as to where they needed to go, Lesufi said.

Part of the department's work would be to identify institutions that were operating within the special education space and give them the support they needed.

"The good news is we have the financial muscle," Lesufi said.

Of the utmost importance was taking care of the teachers and professionals in the sector.

"That is why, when I came here, I was touched. There are 4 000 people who came here on their own, who say we are here and committed," he said.

"I'm committing myself to give them the necessary financial support. We can do it with our partners in the training sector."

Training was critical, since without proper training "you kept recycling the problem rather than eliminating the problem".

Dr Hester Costa, department director of inclusion and special schools, said there were 102 special needs schools in the province.

"We must remember that with the special schools in Gauteng, we are no longer saying we have this school for this, this school for this. We are saying now, this school is to support this child with these needs," she said.

Read more on:    panyaza lesufi  |  johannesburg  |  education

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