For Immediate Release:
10 June 2019
Concerns about reduced quality time spent by teachers with individual special needs learners at an Amanzimtoti, KwaZulu-Natal, school due to over-crowded classes is a thing of the past, thanks to the installation of four new mobile classrooms and two ablution units, valued at more than R840 000.
In the face of serious school subsidy limitations and the inability of either the Department of Education or the Department of Public Works to assist due to budget constraints, the Durban School for the Hearing Impaired has had to face increasingly over-crowded classes alone.
This meant the school, which also caters for intellectually disabled and autistic learners, has been losing the battle to effectively meet all the requirements of learners with special educational needs. Then the South African Muslim Charitable Trust (SAMCT) stepped into the breach.
Speaking at a recent function to mark the official hand-over of the new mobile classrooms and ablution facilities, SAMCT representative, Mr Gaff Osman, said: “Access to a sound education is the right of every child in South Africa. However, the delivery of a sound education is dependent, to a very large extent, on teachers being able to interact easily with those in their charge. The level of such personal interaction is determined by the size of the classes teachers are to teach.”
He stressed that smaller learner numbers per class equated to more time spent with individual learners by teachers.
“The unfortunate reality is that class sizes in South Africa are, by necessity, way bigger than the optimum, simply because of budget, infrastructure and educator constraints. Our schools are increasingly unable to cope with the sheer number of learners coming through their doors. This has much to do with the fact that South Africa is a country with a high youth level,” said Mr Gaff Osman.
This is a wide-spread problem and is not restricted to mainstream educational institutions.
Mr Gaff Osman added: “Many special needs schools battle against the same sort of challenges, a fact which is particularly concerning, given that special needs learners obviously require – and deserve – greater levels of attention from their teachers than might be the case with their mainstream counterparts. The Durban School for the Hearing Impaired, itself a non-profit organisation, is one such school.
The school was established in 1969, utilising a small central Durban premises, before moving to Isipingo as it grew and was able to open its doors to all races. Adding vocational classes, becoming one of the first schools of its type to offer Matric to hearing impaired learners and expanding its special needs offering led to another move to its current Amanzimtoti location.
“This came at some cost, however, with the school split into two campuses and yet again running short of floor space. As may be imagined, this has created a huge logistical problem and – it may be argued – impacted negatively on the quality time spent by teachers with individual learners,” said Mr Gaff Osman
Aware that the special educational needs of learners at the school could not be met in over-crowded classes and that the learners’ education was suffering as a result, the SAMCT was quick to respond to the school’s plea for assistance, donating R841 524 for the purchase and delivery of four mobile classrooms, measuring seven metres by seven metres each, together with two new ablution units.
The SAMCT was created in 2008, the result of a partnership between Old Mutual Unit Trusts and Al Baraka Bank for the creation, marketing and distribution of a suite of Shariah Funds. This partnership ensures that the SAMCT is the beneficiary of this Shariah suite of funds in order to provide funding, services and other resources for the improvement of the lives of the vulnerable, deprived and disadvantaged. The organisation has been singularly successful in delivering sizeable assistance solutions throughout South Africa – irrespective of race or religion – and continues to work to support needy organisations in the fields of health, social development, poverty alleviation and education.
Mr Gaff Osman concluded: “It is our fervent hope now that this humble contribution towards reducing the class sizes, here at the Durban School for the Hearing Impaired, will go some way towards ensuring that these special young people are given the attention they so badly need and that, as a consequence, they will go on to enjoy the sound and full education that is their right.”
For more information about SAMCT or it’s Durban School for the Hearing Impaired donation, please contact:
Social Responsibility Coordinator-SAMCT
Mobile: +27 (0)84 506 2280