Parliament, Wednesday, 1 February 2023 – The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education has urged KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) to enhance support for special needs schools in the province to protect and promote the constitutional right to education. The committee visited various schools in the King Cetshwayo Educational District as part of its week-long oversight programme in the province.
“While we appreciate the support provided by the province to these schools, gaps remain which must be filled with urgency. Interventions such as the provision of specialist support staff, such as educational psychologists and specialist nurses, to these schools is necessary to ensure adequate care. And curriculum delivery is critical and should be enhanced urgently,” said Ms Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, the Chairperson of the committee.
The shortage of support staff is an impediment preventing quality learning and teaching at these schools. Also, the district-based support specific to these schools is lacking, as most of the current staff are not equipped to cater for the needs of these students. Furthermore, budget increases for assisting devices and modified transportation should be high on the department’s list of considerations.
The committee also emphasised the need to collaborate with the Department of Labour to enable the absorption of learners in sheltered employment factories to enable those with special needs to live meaningful lives with gainful employment. The committee welcomed collaboration with private companies that have shown a willingness to employ learners from these schools following assessment.
Meanwhile, the committee has called for a focus on critical subjects such as mathematics and science. This will ensure the system produces dynamic learners who are able to respond to the needs of a contemporary economy. The committee remains concerned that there is a low uptake of and achievement in these critical subjects and has called for strategies to address concerns about the low pass rates in these subjects.
Despite these concerns, the committee is encouraged by the assurance that strategies are in place at school level to improve performance in those subjects. The committee reemphasised its praise for the 83% National Senior Certificate pass rate in KwaZulu-Natal, an increase of 6.2%, the highest increase in the country. With enhanced focus on critical subjects, the province has the potential to achieve even higher results.
Similar to challenges witnessed in schools in the Zululand Educational District, stakeholders in King Cetshwayo called for the urgent resolution of the transport challenges in the province. The lack of quality transport for leaners, with some as young as six hitch-hiking to school, is detrimental to the desired outcome of the right to education for every leaner. The lack of transport also affects learning and teaching.
The committee will today visit the Harry Gwala Education District to visit four schools to continue assessing school readiness for the 2023 academic year.
NB. Download the full programme of the oversight on this link: https://tinyurl.com/4zzzj8z4
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON BASIC EDUCATION, MS BONGIWE MBINQO-GIGABA.
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