Focal points for skills

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

Education officials in KwaZulu-Natal want to turn the province's schools into inclusive centres of learning.

The department says schools should not only be institutions of teaching. They should also provide care and support for children and teachers.

The officials also believe that the schools should address all forms of barriers to learning and development.

The plan incorporates the department's HIV-Aids and care and support programmes, and its objectives are to remove barriers to teaching and learning.

The department believes that the barriers that prevent effective teaching and learning include inadequate facilities at schools, severe poverty, late enrolment, communication difficulties, children living in the streets, those affected and infected with HIV-Aids, insufficient teacher support, poor health and psycho-social disturbances.

Education MEC Ina Cronje says the focus of the strategy is to build a caring and supportive environment by creating full service schools at nodal points.

"These inclusive centres of learning, care and support will in turn service clusters of schools and communities around them."

On Tuesday, Cronje awarded Muntuza Primary School in Estcourt the status of an inclusive centre of learning, care and support.

It is the first of 48 schools that are in the process of becoming inclusive centres of learning, care and support.

Cronje said the need to transform Muntuza Primary School was prompted by the fact that the school was situated in the poverty-stricken Wembezi township where a number of factors, including the Aids pandemic, hindered the learning and development of children.

"Other factors include a high unemployment rate among parents. The lack of birth certificates prevents most pupils from accessing social grants for which they qualify.

"Parents themselves don't have identity documents. A high mortality rate among parents results in many children being orphaned and forced to live with elderly people and relatives, making them vulnerable to different forms of abuse," added Cronje.

Various provincial government departments, local municipalities and NGOs will also assist in providing a range of services at Muntuza, including counselling, access to social grants and issuing of birth certificates.

There will also be various life skills education programmes and onsite skills training projects, including gardening and handiwork.