Poor state of Limpopo’s special needs schools put learners at further disadvantage says Human Rights Commission

Rivoni School for the Blind is one of six schools in Limpopo that accommodates visually-impaired and blind learners and offers classes from Grade R to Grade 12. (Ndivhuwo Mukwevho/Health-e)

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in Limpopo is demanding urgent intervention into the dilapidated state of the province’s schools for learners with special needs.

According to the provincial commission, most of the 35 schools in the province dedicated to children with special needs lack learning materials, infrastructure and staff.

“There are 35 special schools in Limpopo and almost all of them don’t have educational aid devices, which puts the already marginalised learners in a bad state because that means they don’t receive proper learning,” said Victor Mavhidula, SAHRC provincial manager.

“There is also lack of infrastructure, which is a problem on its own because it minimises the intake,” he said, adding that there is also staff shortage at these schools.

Meeting with schools’ stakeholders

Last month, the SAHRC met with school governing bodies (SGBs), department of education and various stakeholders. The two-day meeting in Tzaneen came after the commission received many complaints.

“We have engaged on the challenges with the SGBs and department of education to try to solve on the issues raised and the department have vowed to solve those challenges,” said Mavhidula.

One of the schools the commission heard about was Letaba Special School.

“In Letaba we are having big challenges. We don’t have staff,” said Letaba Special School SGB member Jonas Mathebula. “One house mother is responsible for between 40 to 50 children, and we have children with severe disability, while some of them are in medical condition.”

Schools like Letaba must have their own clinic, but the school only has one nursing sister, added Mathebula. The schools also doesn’t have a social worker, physiotherapist or occupational therapist. These are just some of the resources the learners need.

“We don’t have support from the department, they always promise but don’t provide,” he added.

Last week, Health-e News uncovered the substandard conditions at Rivoni School for the Blind in Limpopo. Parents, fed up of waiting for the government to intervene, staged a protest.

The way forward

When pressed about the plight of special schools in the province, the department of education said they would respond once they have studied SAHRC report.

“I can confirm that we made a submission to the SAHRC,” said the department’s spokesperson Tidimalo Chuene. “We will study the report on the final outcome, once available and a way forward will be determined thereafter.”—Health-e News


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