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Giving a listening ear to a school who defies great odds

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waVulindlebe is lead by a hands-on, enthusiastic and innovative principal, Mrs Nomathemba Ndlovu. She previously taught at Vuleka School for the Deaf from 1988 and joined Sr Mac at KwaVulindlebe shortly after the school was established. The school caters mainly for Deaf learners who have been refused access to other schools due to being too old for the grade in which they should be but do accept learners from Grade R. Most learners entering KwaVulindlebe for the first time have no prior schooling experience (except for deafened children) and therefore arrive with little or no language (signed or spoken). There are 6 qualified teachers (3 with specialization in inclusive / special needs education) and 3 Deaf assistants (2 with matric). Two of the Deaf assistants are employed by the KZN DoE after the principal pushed for the positions to be made government posts.

remain at the school will do a skills programme. The programme is not formalised or structured.

The school currently caters for 54 pupils from Grade R to Grade 7 and from last year they introduced a skills class for older children who are unable to transfer to other Deaf schools as they have acquired minimal literacy skills. These children are given basic literacy and numeracy classes daily and are taught beadwork, cane weaving and various other handcrafts. At the moment these crafts are just sitting in the store room once complete and I suggested that they incorporate some basic entrepreneurship training into their programme to enable the kids to sell the goods that they produce.

The School is a fee-paying school and the fees are R100 a year. However, most children do not pay even this small amount. There is no boarding facility and the pupils are brought to school from surrounding areas by the school bus.

The school used to operate from the basement of the Roman Catholic Church in Umlazi V section and had only 29 pupils. They now share premises with Coedmore Primary School. The shared premises has its challenges. No access to the central system, the Principal has no real recourse to take in the event, for example, of a powerful failure. Many of the pupils do transfer out from Grade 7 and most go to VN Naik school or KwaThintwa school. Those who

Due to a lack of early language intervention many of the pupils at the school are severely delayed in their language acquisition, even in South African Sign Language (SASL), let alone the written language. Consequently, despite enormous pressure, school principal, Mrs Ndlovu, refused to allow her students to write the state required Annual National Assessment (ANA) tests as it served little purpose for her struggling students. Although she conceded to allow some of her students to write the exam, the following year, she’s only done so to illustrate the meaninglessness of the assessment for her students.

Mrs Odette Swift Director Deaf Education Deaf Federation of South Africa

bus cannot drive up and down so much (and now its not even possible). Since there is no nurse, the children are not even allowed to be given any standard paracetamol-based subscription-free medicine at school. All the teachers employed at the school can sign and the Deaf Assistants provide South African Sign Language (SASL) training to the staff as and when needed. The staff all seemed very enthusiastic and showed great love for the learners.

Areas of dire need include: • lack of ECD learning opportunities for the children before they attend Grade R (equivalent to Grade K) leads to severe language delays, difficult to rectify later, negatively impacting the child’s future. • lack of physical space. At the new premises there are still two grades sharing one classroom and in some cases two teachers sharing the classroom and in others one teacher is doing multi-grade teaching.

The bus is, however, not operational at the moment as no one’s taken responsibility to repair a mechanical fault.

• the bus that is out of operation is a problem as it results in learners either not coming to school at all or transferring to other schools.

This has resulted in many pupils not coming to school as their families cannot afford to pay the taxi fares to Chatsworth from their areas of residence. Some parents come with their children to school in the morning and spend the day sitting in a classroom on cardboard on the floor or trying to get some sleep, waiting for their children to finish school to take them home again.

• there is no support from the KZN DoE for SASL training for staff and parents, and also no support for specialized workshops on education of the Deaf specifically.

The School does not have the services of a nurse, audiologist, speech therapist or any other professional support. Children who are sick at school have to wait until school is finished to be taken to Prince Mshiyeni hospital as the school

Action for Mobile Education in Africa 移动教育非洲行动

• no professional support which would assist in identifying additional difficulties faced by pupils. There are many other health issues faced by learners (HIV, growth abnormalities, rape and sodomy, social and family problems etc) and the principal has participated in many short courses to provide trauma counseling, parent support etc. However, there needs to be more consistent access to other professional support services in the school. Durban, SOUTH AFRICA February, 2014

The Beijing Royal School and Learning Academy Worldwide Collaborative for improving quality education in Africa June, 2014

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obile learning within South African schools under the project plans of the Deaf Federation in South Africa (DeafSA) started in February 2014 when Learning Academy Worldwide (LAWW) co-sponsored the Director of Deaf Education South Africa, Mrs Odette Swift, to attend the UNESCO Mobile Learning Week in Paris, France. It was followed up by an onsite school visit in South Africa, the introduction of Mobile Learning seminar in Durban and the planning of a teacher professional development strategy for 2014-2015.

Deaf Education Focus

“We salute the work of DeafSA and consider it an honour to be part of an initiative that will give every student in South Africa a fair chance to learn, no matter what their circumstances,” said LAWW founder, Theophilus van Rensburg Lindzter. The mission of DeafSA is to preserve, protect and promote the civil, human and linguistic rights of Deaf, Deaf-blind, Hard of hearing and deafened people throughout South Africa. One of the key ways to achieve this is through ensuring quality, equal education for Deaf learners.

Since 2009, Learning Academy Worldwide’s created opportunities for young people to serve in our work in Southern Africa. This year, Miss Louise Österberg from Stockholm, SWEDEN, served both in China and South Africa. “A big thank you to President Guangfa Wang and to Theophilus van Rensburg Lindzter for creating an opportunity for me to experience something completely different from what school or an extra job ever could. From Beijing to the dusty roads of Limpopo, you have allowed me to meet people, listen and connect with them as they opened up their homes and hearts to me, a stranger. Thank You for being part in teaching me how to make business plans, think smart, be generous, walk through a lake with hippos and, mostly, thank You for giving me a new perspective of the world.”

Students and Staff of the Kwavulindlebe Primary School, Durban, SOUTH AFRICA. The school principal, Mrs Nomathemba Ndlovu, with the white headband, is in the first row to the far right. Louise Österberg with two students signing a poem called, “My Hands are My Home”

Collaborative Publication of Learning Academy Worldwide and the Beijing Royal School, Contact: theophilus@learningacademyworldwide.com Address: Largo Temistocle Solera, 7-10, ROME, 00199, Italy

Kwavulindlebe Primary School Mlearning 2014  

Kwavulindlebe Primary School in Durban, South Africa, recently received help from a collaborative effort to support deaf education in the co...

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