Mpumalanga to build its own high school for people with disability

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After high school pupils living with disabilities from Mpumalanga were cast out of Limpopo, the province is planning to build its own special needs high school. 

Launching Disability Month in Mbombela on Monday, Mpumalanga MEC for social development Thandi Shongwe said the province has procured land and is ready to construct a school for disabled people. 

About 38 pupils from Mpumalanga had to be accommodated at Bukhosibetfu inclusive school in the Nkomazi municipality after Limpopo did not have space at its disabled people’s school. 

Shongwe said a school for the deaf and the blind is to be built in the city of Mbombela. 

“It’s a pity that our children were chased away, but as the province we have been sending our high school learners to Limpopo. We have had a number of schools accommodating primary school disabled learners. 

"As we speak, as the provincial government we are building a school and we believe that it is going to start from grade 1 to grade 12. Though the issue of education is not in my portfolio, we are government and we know that it must be done now in this administration.

"Maybe because we haven’t had ours [disabled pupils' high school] we were comfortable as Limpopo was accommodating our children but now that they have chased them away we are on it,” said Shongwe. 

Mpumalanga education department spokesperson Jasper Zwane told Sowetan that the department has managed to accommodate the 38 high school pupils from the Limpopo school. 

“That issue has been resolved, we have housed those learners at Bukhosibetfu which is one of our best schools in terms of inclusivity. As the province it should be known that we have 140 fully serviced schools which cater for all children, including disabled. Again, let’s deal with the issue of children with special needs; some we know that they learn skills like handyman ones and use them to develop themselves because not all the children with special needs go up to grade 12,” said Zwane. 

Shongwe said the department was concerned about people who are disabled and go to beg on the streets while they are being paid their disability grants. 

“We understand that most of the people we see on our streets begging are not South Africans which means they don’t get the grant. Yes, it does happen that people who receive grant are seen begging in the streets, those issues are mixed. You find out that someone [else] is taking their grant and not helping them or some send them to go beg which we condemn as the department because that grant is theirs  -no one should make them suffer on the streets,” said Shongwe. 

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