Pupils with special needs ignored, says dept head

2012-11-14 00:00

ONE of the ills facing South Africa’s education system is that children with “special needs” are left in the cold.

This is according to KwaZulu-Natal Education Department head Nkosinathi Sishi, who was yesterday speaking at the Durban City Hall during a graduation ceremony of principals and circuit managers who completed their Principals’ Management Development Programme (PMDP).

“One of the problems in the education system in SA is also that we’re too focused on the average child,” Sishi added.

In academic institution circles, he said, he hardly ever hears talks about “gifted children” and the kind of education they receive.

“There are so many out there, some poor and some rich, and we’re not speaking enough about them and they get left behind,” he said.

The department has built 75 full service school, schools which are specially equipped to address a full range of barriers to learning in an inclusive setting, and 70 special schools.

According to the General Household Survey (GHS) 2010: Focus on Schooling, Northern Cape (NC) and KZN had the lowest percentage of zero to four-year-olds with disabilities attending early childhood development centres, at 21% and 22% respectively. Gauteng had the highest, at about 46%, according to the survey conducted by Statistics SA.

The same survey found that children with disabilities aged 16 to 18 find it hard to access schooling across SA.

KZN and the NC had a very low number of pupils in this category attending an education institution.

“This indicates that much more attention needs to be paid in these provinces to improve education access,” the report recommended.

Sishi said he was also worried that there were still schools without Internet access.

He said Internet connection should be a priority, adding that “it’s not a privilege, but a must”.

A circuit manager from Ilembe District said there are a lot of teachers who do not know how to switch on a computer.

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