Nokuthula LSEN parents at wits' end

The new Nokuthula School for Learners with Special Educational Needs in Lyndhurst.
The new Nokuthula School for Learners with Special Educational Needs in Lyndhurst.
Image: Thulani Mbele

When Gloria Thwala learnt that the Nokuthula Schoollearners with special educational needs (LSEN) School in Lyndhurst, Johannesburg, had opened, she was relieved as her son would finally attenda school suited for his special needs.

But what was a great breakthrough for Thwala has turned into a serious financial burden as the R300m school is yet to open its boarding facilities.

This means Thwala has to transport her son, who has a neuro-cognitive disorder, from Kalkheuwel West, about 14km from Lanseria Airport, to Lyndhurst at R4,000 a month.

Her husband, who is the family's breadwinner, is a gardener. She has been able to send her son to school due to the generosity of her husband's boss, who contributes towards transport costs.

Thwala's son joined the school in August after its official opening in July.

Her son wakes up at 5am to make it on time to school.

"The best thing that can happen is for my son to stay at the school. That will end all our problems," she said.

She is trying to find a place to stay in Alexandra to cut travelling costs for her son.

Thwala said the school has transport but there were not enough children in her area to secure a bus.

Thulani Ndalasi of Cosmo City has a similar predicament. His 11-year-old son joined the school in July.

Ndalasi said doctors referred his son to a special school because of his learning difficulties. At the time Ndalasi's son joined the school, he had a car.

It costs him about R2,500 a month to take his son to school, wait for him and bring him home. Ndalasi and his wife are unemployed.

Ndalasi's wife and son now stay with a relative in Alexandra to reduce their transport costs.

"If the boarding school were to open, it would help a lot because we could fetch our son on weekends," Ndalasi said.

Gauteng department of education spokesperson Steve Mabona said the school was awaiting a certificate to occupy the hostel facilities.

"Unfortunately, we will not occupy the boarding facility without an occupation certificate. We are hopeful that relevant stakeholders will resolve this matter," he said.

Mabona said plans have been made to ensure that children from far areas were transported to the school.

"We will engage with the said parents to expedite assistance," Mabona said.

Sowetan reported in August that the school was operating on a temporary occupational health and safety certificate as it had not met all the requirements, which would enable it to open its boarding facilities.

DA Gauteng spokesperson on education Khumo Ramulifho said the delay was unacceptable.

"You cannot invest so much money in such a facility and you are unable to use it optimally. The learners are the victims," said Ramulifho.

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