Gauteng rolling out schools for autistic children

Cape Town - Gauteng has opened 18 new schools for children with autism, Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi said on Thursday.

In addition, another 25 such schools will be built in the province to reduce the school waiting list for autistic children from five years to six months.

"This is so that these children that suffer from autism cannot be left alone," Lesufi told the National Council of Provinces as Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga tabled her budget vote.

According to the department's website, the first autism special school was opened in Orlando West in Soweto in January.

Pupils at Thulasizwe School for Autism would have access to a professional nurse who would be stationed at the school as well as a therapy centre. The layout would consider the preferences of pupils who suffer from the condition, which severely hampers communication.

The schools would receive more funds than others because of their extra needs.

Many parents of autistic children struggle to afford the high fees of private special needs schools and those who do obtain a bursary have to travel vast distances to get their children to school and back.

On other breakthroughs in the province, Lesufi said:
No Grade 12 classroom used chalk, a chalkboard and a blackboard duster anymore having changed over to paperless systems;

Learning one African language would be compulsory from Grade 1 in 2017;

Every pupil who occupies first, second or third place in a township school will get a four-year bursary;

A School of Specialisation was launched in the province this week. Among the specialised equipment there was the engine of a Boeing 747 to allow pupils to learn how to assemble it.

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