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Changing the game for special needs education

 

Pretoria - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says her department is hard at work to improve support services and the way the curriculum is delivered in public, special and ordinary schools.

The Minister hosted a Ministerial Roundtable on Disability in Pretoria on Monday as part of the Disability Rights Awareness Month 2015.

Minister Motshekga said areas of concern, which are receiving attention, include the lack of sufficient professional staff like nurses, therapists, psychologists and social workers. She said these problem areas were being addressed through the development of Human Resource Provisioning Norms and District Norms.

She said her department recognises that it must strengthen district-based support services.

“The Department of Basic Education is committed to ensuring that all learners with disabilities are able to access a special or full service school, which offers the programme of support that they require, preferable in their neighbourhood.

“We would like to see all schools becoming more responsive to learner needs by influencing the change of attitudes of their school community that may still be predisposed to prejudice against people with disabilities,” said Minister Motshekga.

She said the lack of specialised competencies among educators teaching at special and full service schools is being addressed through multi-year plans for teacher training in areas like Braille, South African Sign Language, autism, augmentative and alternative communication, and effective utilisation of assistive technology, among other initiatives.

Minister Motshekga reaffirmed government’s commitment to providing access to quality education and support to all children with disabilities.

She said no child should be left behind. “… One child excluded is one child too many.”

Minister Motshekga said there is a persistent challenge of out-of-school children with disabilities who are unable to exercise their right to basic education, thus lacking access to any form of support services offered within a school environment.

“There are also children with disabilities in schools who have not been properly assessed to determine and plan for their support needs.

“In a bid to address the educational rights of children who are at risk of compounded marginalisation, we have developed a new White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” said Minister Motshekga.

She said the new policy instrument will be presented to Cabinet this month. The white paper broadens the scope of understanding marginalisation to include persons with psychosocial, intellectual and/or neurological disabilities, especially those who live within rural and/or impoverished communities and families; persons that are homeless or displaced or refugees, as they are less likely to access information on their rights, as well as supported decision-making services, and children with severe to profound intellectual disability who are out-of-school.

Widening access to education

She called on everyone to join hands and focus on what needs to be done to ensure that every child with a disability of compulsory school-going age is enrolled in a registered education programme or school, and has full access to the learning process through access to reasonable accommodation and support.

“We all know that in every settlement in South Africa - rural, peri-urban and urban - there are children with disabilities who remain excluded from education,” said the Minister.

She also said the State must ensure that children with disabilities have access to a public ordinary school in the neighbourhood in which they live, and must ensure that they receive the necessary reasonable accommodation to address their individual needs.

“It is for this reason that we have passed the Policy on Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support (SIAS) to ensure that no child will be refused admission to a school and that children who are exempted from school attendance are captured on a list so as to ascertain that they also have access to other government services,” said Minister Motshekga.

There are currently 453 special schools in the country. Eighteen are under construction.

Minister Motshekga said there are only two of the 82 education districts that do not have special schools.

Emeritus Professor Roy McConkey of the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland said South Africa was one of the leading countries in the provision of inclusive education in the world, and definitely in Africa.

He commended government for its efforts to improve the quality education for persons living with disabilities.

He also said it is time to move away from excluding children with disabilities from society by placing them in residential special schools, and advised that government should look into the possibility of integrating them in full service schools and provide conducive facilities.

Thenjiwe Ndebele, 25, spoke as the Chairperson of Self-Advocates from Down Syndrome South Africa.

She pleaded that all children with disabilities be given access to education so that they can earn a bit of independence.

“I may have a disability but I have many abilities. We matter. Education is important to us,” said Ndebele, who aspires to be a businesswoman.

FINALISTS CREATE MORE THAN 100 JOBS IN 2015

Johannesburg. 20 November 2015. The South African Breweries’ (SAB) 20-year old youth entrepreneurship development programme, SAB KickStart, has announced its top 5 winning youth-owned businesses, which receive a share of R1.5-million in business grants.

The winners were announced during 20th Anniversary celebration of SAB KickStart held late last night in Mbombela, Mpumalanga; and during Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) which runs until 22 November 2015. SAB is running several initiatives during GEW targeting young entrepreneurs across South Africa and offering business grants of up to R350 000  for eligible participants.

The overall winner of SAB Kickstart 2015 is Clement Pilusa, owner of Pilusa and Mabotja Farming based in Tshwane, Gauteng. His business will be provided with a first place grant fund of R500 000, which adds to the seed capital of R170 000 he received at the start of the programme early this year. Pilusa, 26, established his farming and fresh produce business in 2012 beginning with vegetables and later expanded into broiler chicken production.

Operating within the Agricultural sector, Clement notes that SAB KickStart has helped him to differentiate his business from competitors. Mentorship played a vital role in altering his focus within the business and making better business investment decisions. .

“All businesses need training, commitment, passion, hard work, good marketing skills and financial planning. Through my efforts and the support structure offered by SAB KickStart this year, we were able to take my business a step further in its journey to success,” says Pilusa.

The SAB KickStart finalists and their business were carefully monitored throughout the year and their mentorship structured to best suit their changing business needs. An independent panel of business experts selected the final winners according to their progress throughout the competition.

“Clement was an all-rounder whose progress as an entrepreneur and that of his business impressed the judging panel on every level. He is a true agri-preneur who has shown an incredible amount of personal grit, a strong understanding of the technical aspects of his business and his business is set for positive future growth,” says Octavius Phukubye, SAB Economic Development Manager.

In second place is Ranjan Sewgambar of Private Practicing Audiologist based in Durban, KwaZulu Natal, who won a grant of R400 000. He established his health care practice in 2009 and provides diagnostic audiology and hearing aid services.

Third place winner, Caroline Kgomo of Meqheleng Waste Management based in Ficksburg, Free State, received a business grant of R300 000 and Chantelle Smith of Health View Clinic in Johannesburg, Gauteng, who is in the fourth place received R200 000.

Fifth place, Angelo Maart of EnviroCare from Cape Town, Western Cape, was awarded a business grant of R100 000.

All five winners will receive an additional six-month long programme of business development support and mentorship to assist in efficiently employing the grant investment provided.

The top five winners were selected from a group of 18 SAB KickStart finalists who completed a year-long programme of business development support, which included a business growth strategy designed for their business, grant funding of between R100 000 and R200 000, and individualised business mentorship.

“Our support model is designed to build and strengthen the capabilities of the SMEs so that they become sustainable entities with the ability to achieve one of government’s top priorities – create jobs while at the same time make a worthwhile contribution the country’s economy,”  says Phukubye..

The top 18 national finalists created more than 100 fulltime and part-time jobs in 2015.

“The key objective of SAB KickStart and its model of business development support is to ensure that the start-up businesses thrive rather than merely survive.  This support creates an enabling environment in which young entrepreneurs are able to assist others in becoming economically active,” says Phukubye.

“In addition, it allows SAB and its entrepreneurs to make a genuine contribution towards the national vision, indicated by the National Development Plan, of creating one-million jobs by 2030 through involvement of big business and the power of entrepreneurship.”

SAB KickStart, introduced in 1995, is designed to help address the need to create sustainable jobs through supporting the development of high impact young entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Friday, 27 November 2015 10:18

Becoming a Momentum Financial Planner

Success for both individual and professional financial planners is determined by a team committed to offering comprehensive financial advice that goes beyond selling policies or products.

Monday, 09 November 2015 08:07

Tshepo for SA's unemployed youth

Government’s calls for South African youth to start up their own businesses, especially against the backdrop of a sluggish economy and the high unemployment rate, have started bearing fruit.

Monday, 09 November 2015 07:50

African content popular with audiences

Local content on the African continent has proven itself to be popular, resilient and it resonates with audiences, says Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula says transformation in all sporting codes is non-negotiable and the programme to bring about change will continue.

Saturday, 07 November 2015 14:38

UJ protesters to be released on warning

The 141 workers and students arrested during a protest at the University of Johannesburg are being released from jail on Saturday, police spokersperson Captain Thekiso Mofokeng said.

Saturday, 07 November 2015 14:26

EFF CALLS FOR URGENT RELEASE OF UJ PROTESTERS!

THE Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) called for the immediate release of 141 students and workers jailed on Friday after a protest at the University of Johannesburg against outsourcing.

Thursday, 05 November 2015 22:20

Government explores options for varsity funding

Government, working with universities, is exploring various options to meet the commitment made by President Jacob Zuma of a zero percent increase in university fees in 2016, the Presidency said on Sunday.

Government has called on academic institutions to take the lead in developing academic programmes and technical skills needed to take the country forward.

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