Masutha launches initiative to better the lives of blind learners

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Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha. Picture: Lindile Mbontsi
Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha. Picture: Lindile Mbontsi

Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Advocate Michael Masutha – who is himself partially sighted – has partnered with the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB) and Kaya FM in an initiative that seeks to assist blind and partially sighted learners to access and enjoy quality and transformative education.

The initiative will provide leaners with among other things “assistive technology, improved and well-equipped libraries, and the improvement of physical infrastructure in public schools catering for blind learners”.

Masutha on Wednesday launched the Minister’s Invitational Golf Day and 2nd Annual Gala Dinner for the Blind as fundraisers to assist 22 Special Schools for the Blind in South Africa.

“Our goal for the partnership is to reach out to business leaders to be part of this great cause of empowering our future generation by making education a personally relevant and engaging experience that will lead our learners to a professionally and personally fulfilling and progressive journey,” said Masutha.

Thomas Simelane, Education Officer at SANCB lauded the efforts of the minister and in particular Kaya FM for partnering with them.

“Partnering with Kaya will give us a unique opportunity to make sure that our learners have an experience that can help better prepare them for the future, as this year’s theme is ‘Empowering Blind Futures’,” he said.

Amu Mathebula, Brand Manager at Kaya FM, added: “We are excited to be part of this initiative with SANCB. It’s an incredible project that seeks to help young people who are visually impaired to live a progressive lifestyle through effective education. Not only that but it perfectly aligns with our company culture (Kaya Cares, which serves our local communities in their time of need).”

The gala dinner is set to be an annual event which will raise funds to assist all 22 special schools for the blind and partially sighted in South Africa.

Masutha has been involved in championing the cause of visually impaired people since his student days when he founded and participated in movements for disabled students while studying at the University of the North and Wits University.

He was also a founding member of the Northern Transvaal Association for the Blind and became a member of the National Council for the Blind’s executive committee where he advocated for the removal of discriminatory laws against blind people, especially in protective employment.

The first fundraising gala dinner in November 2017 raised more than R6 million in pledges and donations.

Simelane said “SANCB’s learning programme is part of a successful and increasingly popular approach to education that is transforming local schools for the blind, by helping students apply the academic skills they are learning in school to solve real-world issues and, ultimately show them how their school journey directly relates to their career interests and aspirations”.

It was also announced on the day that the Department of Correctional Services will make a contribution to this initiative through its offender labour programme.

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