Minister Michael Masutha launched the DCS Back to School campaign at Efata School for the Blind in the Eastern Cape on 11 January by joining offenders in painting and other renovation work that were underway. The event coincided with the roll out of the Legacy Programme that was launched at the Minister’s gala dinner on 30 November 2017. The programme intends to assist 22 schools for the blind, and Efata is one of them.
The department had deployed offenders to the school to do renovations as it was pledged at the gala dinner. Other partners in the programme included the SABC and the South African National Council for The Blind. The SABC delivered on its undertaking to cover the roll out of the Legacy Programme by covering the event on its Mhlobo Wenene FM through intermediate live crossings. It will continue with giving airtime on its platforms throughout the roll out.
The department’s contributions, as outlined by Eastern Cape Regional Commissioner Nkosinati Breakfast, included repainting the learners’ dormitories, fixing bed frames and cutting grass. The SABC donation was R200 000 worth of material that included bed sheets, pillow covers, braille readers and airtime to mobilise other communities and the corporate sector to assist. The SABC also donated 20 braille puzzle games and 20 magnetic story boards.
Minister Masutha said the programme was a platform that was created for others to lend a hand to the good cause of education. He said it also gave offenders an opportunity to give back to the community they have wronged, and in the process regain their self-worth. “This is not only to mobilise resources, but it is to mobilise activism and partnerships of all kinds,” he said. He said the programme will create a safer school environment and better conditions for learning, which will go a long way to demonstrate that, given the opportunity, the blind can achieve the same excellence as any other child.
The South African National Council for the Blind was represented by Mr Chris Budeli, Manager Education, Social Inclusion and Development. He outlined the challenges that blind learners face, in addition from being separated from their parents and families at a young age due to the scarcity of schools for the blind. He announced that a learner, Nathi Golomi, attained four distinctions for the 2017 matric year, and he was awarded the Premier’s Award at the Eastern Cape provincial announcement of matric results. The school had seven matric learners in 2017 and all of them passed.
The DCS Back to School programme is envisaged to reach 1 300 schools nationally and 300 schools in the Eastern Cape.