Gauteng Education Department ready to cater to learners with special needs

Gauteng Education spokesperson Steve Mabona. Picture: Bongani Shilulbane

Gauteng Education spokesperson Steve Mabona. Picture: Bongani Shilulbane

Published Jan 17, 2024


As the 2024 school calendar is set to kick-start on Wednesday, the Gauteng Education Department has assured parents that learners with special needs will be well catered for.

The departmental spokesperson, Steve Mabona, said the department has set up a provincial policy in place with its primary focus on screening, identification, assessment, and support.

Mabona said this was specifically to identify support needs early and to also address it where learners find themselves.

“Learners with ADHD need support in terms of the challenges the ADHD poses to their ability to master the curriculum, deal with the assessment, and examination processes, sensory challenges, and even challenges with behaviour.

“Every learner with ADHD has unique strengths and support needs,” added the spokesperson.

He continued to say it was prudent that a support plan be drafted for each learner to support them in dealing with their challenges.

“One example of support is, for instance, to make specific allowances for learners during learning and assessment processes.”

Similar to learners suffering from ADH, learners with dyscalculia are given the option to drop maths/mathematical literacy and to replace it with another subject in its place, Mabona explained.

“It is important to note that this is a deviation from the curriculum and assessment policies and would require approval from the presiding officer. However, detailed diagnostic and other relevant reports will then be required,” he said.

When asked if teachers were trained to deal with such learners, Mabona said that ideally there’s supposed to be a school-based support team that should be established to oversee support to learners and indicate what training was required.

“Consequently, the district-based support team is expected to arrange the capacity building. The capacity building can be by means of in-service training or a formal training programme.

“In terms of ADHD, several provincial training opportunities have been provided for the past number of years,” the spokesperson said.

Mabona, however, said learners who were diagnosed with dyscalculia and required support in public schools were fewer than 10 per year in Gauteng.

This comes after a primary school teacher in Pimville, Soweto, who spoke to “The Star”, raised her concern that the majority of her colleagues did not understand why some learners were struggling in schools.

Mariah Ngubeni (not her real name) said the majority of these kids were struggling not because they were not smart, but because some of them had ADHD and dyscalculia.

“This challenge affects a lot of kids within our schools and they do not even get diagnosed nor receive support. Only a few schools, especially township schools, have introduced Learners with Special Education Needs (LSEN) classes but most schools still do not have those classes nor the teachers to assist these kids,” said Ngubeni.

The Star