EDUCATION THE BEST MEDICINE

It was school and dialysis as usual for little Musi, 9, at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg.

It was school and dialysis as usual for little Musi, 9, at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg.

When the nurse was done giving Musi his treatment he put his school shirt on, grabbed his bag and he was off to class just down the corridor.

Musi receives treatment three times a week and this requires his staying at the hospital on a full-time basis.

The Johannesburg Hospital School allows him to remain up to date with his school work while receiving medical attention.

A full curriculum is offered at the school, from Grades 1 to 12 for permanent students as well as remedial classes for children who are temporarily in hospital.

"A hospital school teacher is very different to any other since she becomes more like a parent to the pupil," says school principal Ronel van Biljon.

She says they have small classes, which helps with remedial problems, and that they understand that their pupils feeel sick at times so a pass was enough. They do not always expect amazing results.

Despite the odds, Van Biljon and her team managed to obtain an 86percent pass rate last year.

Most of the children at the school suffer from diabetes, renal or kidney failure.

All the children are taught from as young as eight how to treat themselves in certain circumstances. The diabetic patients test their own insulin levels four times a day and independently give themselves insulin shots.

"We try and keep the environment as normal as possible for our children, and on Friday we went on a field trip to the planetarium. The students had a ball and they got involved in the presentation," she says.

She says the school also gives children hope and that the Department of Education supports the school.

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