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Deputy Minister Mhaule kicks off DRAM in the Eastern Cape Province

Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Dr Reginah Mhaule and Eastern Cape MEC, Mr Fundile Gade handed over the Sunshine Special School in Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape Province to the community on 8 November 2021. This state of-the art special school, built to the value of R94 million, has amenities which include a resource centre; a science laboratory; a therapy block; practical subject rooms for subjects such as hair dressing and home economics; a multipurpose centre; and a  nutrition centre where learners are served nutritious meals daily.

In her opening address, Deputy Minister Mhaule said that the Disability Rights Awareness Month (DRAM) offers an opportunity for barriers to be removed and for the quality of life of People Living with Disabilities to be improved through concrete action through access to quality lifelong learning as one of the 11 basic education priorities.

“To date, the progressive roll-out of the Policy on Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support (SIAS) and Curriculum Differentiation has reached 99,470 teachers and 5,567 officials. All Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) are now conducting training to consolidate and institutionalise SIAS implementation to strengthen early identification and intervention. Today, we as the Government are here to restore hope and dignity to our learners with special educational needs and to bring this cohort of learners into the mainstream. Learners with special educational needs are entitled equally to educational facilities that meet, and if not exceed the set minimum uniform norms and standards for public school infrastructure,” said Deputy Minister Mhaule.

“In consultation with industry experts, the Independent Authority of South Africa (ICASA) and all relevant, inclusive education stakeholders, we have already developed a comprehensive ICTs Resource Model for Special Needs Schools. Our whole implementation strategy includes: ICT Guidelines for Schools; Basic ICT package; Assistive technologies basket; Special Needs School Assessment form; and a Process Map. In addition, all Network Operators have, through the Universal Service and Access Obligations (USAO) project, committed to rolling out ICTs to 447 Special Schools allocated to them with fit for purpose ICT equipment. In our view, ICTs are the real game-changer, not just to narrow the proverbial digital divide, but to enable the disabled. Only ICTs can break the barriers of learners with disabilities by providing them with a voice, independence and autonomy,” the Deputy Minister concluded.

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