A desperate search by parents to find a school for their 11-year-old cerebral palsy son has eventually paid off - albeit in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.
The father, identified only as P to protect the identity of his son A, said they had been searching for a school to accept their son since the age of 5. However, all the doors were closed in their faces.
A was eventually accepted by the Meerhof School for the Disabled in Brits. He attended this school for a year during 2015. Afterwards, the school said it simply did not have the staff to cater for his special needs.
He had been at home since, where he was being cared for by his mother, who had to give up her studies and job.
His father stated in court papers that when the boy was eventually admitted to Meerhof, they were joyful and believed their prayers had been answered. They said he was an intelligent little boy who wanted to learn, despite his disabilities.
He and his wife had since the end of 2015 done everything within their power to get the boy into a school, but with no luck.
“A not being in school has been truly terrible for us all I am incredibly frustrated, sad and disappointed. Mostly I feel as if I am failing my son. Neither my wife nor I can bear to see A in this condition, sitting at home while he should be schooled.”
He said in his affidavit that the most difficult of all was that A did not not understand why he was not in school like all other children.
“He cried when he was not able to go back to school in 2016. In fact, he still cries when he thinks about school and when he sees his sister go to school. It is heartbreaking for us and we feel totally helpless.”
The father said he and his wife had been searching for a school since 2011 and they hand delivered numerous applications, but heard nothing from the schools.
“In 2015 we received the joyous news that he was accepted at Meerhof School. We were also ecstatic when he was provided with a wheelchair and finally being treated as all other children are.”
He woke up at 4.30am every day to get ready for school, until the end of 2015 when the parents were told to look for a school more suitable to him.
The father and mother further searched in vain and they even called in the help of the Centre for Child Law. Application was made to Pretoria School, which said it would await the decision of the Gauteng Department of Education.
The Pretoria School also said it did not have enough staff to cater for A's special needs at the classes or in hostel.
The parents were given a list of schools which catered for children with special needs and told that they had to search for a suitable school themselves. Each school had to assess A.
The parents said they simply could not do this, as the mother had to take care of A at home on a full-time basis and the father could not take time off work.
They eventually turned to court as they felt that A, like any other child, was entitled to an education.
In a happy ending to their tale, Judge Hennie de Vos ordered that he be admitted to the remedial Pretoria School as both a pupil and a boarder.
To add to this good news, the North West Department of Education undertook to appoint a fulltime general assistant to care for and assist A in class during the day.
The Gauteng Department of Education also promised to appoint a fulltime housekeeper to care for and assist A at the hostel after school.