State of the art special needs school still not open – nine months after the ribbon was cut

Gloria Hlatshwayo admires a swimming pool with two pupils at the Nokuthula LSEN School on October 17, 2017.
Gloria Hlatshwayo admires a swimming pool with two pupils at the Nokuthula LSEN School on October 17, 2017.
Image: Thulani Mbele

A multi-million rand state-of-the -art government school has become a white elephant gathering dust.

Nokuthula Centre and Special School  is still not operating despite promises made by both  Gauteng MEC of Education Panyaza Lesufi and MEC for infrastructure Jacob Mamabolo, that children with special needs will finally occupy the school on the re-opening of the second term.

The R300-million hi-tech facility in Lyndhurst, Johannesburg, has been standing empty since its official opening in October last year. The learners were suppose to move to their new school at the beginning of this year but there were delays with the issuing of the occupational certificate. In May, Mamabolo’s spokesman Theo Nkonki, said: “We have permission for the facility to be occupied. We managed to obtain an occupational certificate for the next six months while we conclude processes towards permanent occupancy. The school, as of April 26, will be occupied.”

 On Tuesday, Democratic Alliance's Gauteng Shadow Education MEC, Khume Ramulifho, revisited the school.

“The school is still not operating even though the City of Joburg has given the department the occupation certificate. I am not sure why there are still delays in relocating the children. I will ask the MEC (Lesufi) to explain the reasons for the delays,” said Ramulifho.

Education spokesman Steve Mabona said it must be noted that there were delays in the issuing of the occupational certificate for the school by the City of Johannesburg.

“However, we can confirm that the said document was ultimately issued accordingly and we have finalised a relocation plan with all affected parents,” Mabona said.

He also said the school caters for learners with special needs such as: severe intellectual disability, mild intellectual disabilities, autistic spectrum disorder, deaf and hard of hearing, blind and those who are visually impaired.

“These needs dictate that the department must be sensitive to the kind of learners involved in the entire process. Therefore, we need to be cautious and not rush the move which might be detrimental to the wellbeing of the affected learners. The relocation also  focuses on classroom allocation, verification of equipment and furniture," he said.

"There is also going to be a learner orientation as well as viewing of the school by all stakeholders."

Mabona also said, taking into considerations of all the critical activities to be undertaken, the anticipated official occupation will be on September 1.

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