The much-anticipated school for the Deaf and Blind in Mpumalanga has been dealt another blow as the Emalahleni Local Municipality withdrew the identified land due to a council resolution.
Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane stated during her recent reply to oral questions in the Mpumalanga Legislature, that the school for the Deaf and Blind will not be constructed in this academic year as the Emalahleni Local Municipality withdrew the land due to a council resolution.
The Premier went on to say that the provincial government hopes to identify a new site, with design and planning commencing by September 2023 and the school being fully constructed by 2027.
However, the provincial Department of Education’s budget paints a different picture with no funds allocated or budgeted for this school for the third consecutive year.
Currently, there are over 600 learners in the province that have already been identified to benefit from the school for the blind and deaf, yet they will not because the provincial government acts like construction of the school is not a matter of urgency.
It has been almost 12-years now since the school for the deaf and blind was announced on 24 May 2011 in the 2011/12 budget speech. But the location of this project has been moved numerous times due to the government stating that the identified locations are not suitable. Twelve full years have elapsed now since the construction of the school was announced, but nothing to show for it.
In 2017, it came to the DA’s attention that the department of education appointed a private service provider for R11 million a year to offer boarding facilities for deaf and blind learners in the province – instead of constructing a school for them.
Last year (2022), the Democratic Alliance (DA) wrote a letter to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) requesting them to investigate the undue with regards to the construction of this project. We believe that the delay is disadvantaging deaf and blind learners in the province.
The DA will write to the SAHRC updating them on the new developments. We hope it will help with their on-going investigation into the matter.
The DA will continue to stand up and fight for learners with special needs, assist the parents of these learners with their daily plight in insuring that this school is built.