Kids wait a year to see psychologist

THE principal of a primary school in the Libode mega district has accused the Education Department of failing to send a psychologist to assess pupils with mental and physical challenges.

Lucky Dubedube said he was still waiting for a psychologist to screen pupils at the KwaZweni Senior Primary School exactly a year after he wrote asking for intervention from the department.

He also attached details of a mentally handicapped Grade 4 pupil as evidence of his frustrating situation.

"The pupil is not able to write legibly and that is why I referred this child to the department for screening." Mentally challenged pupils simply walked out of class during teaching and sometimes ran around the school premises, he said.

There are no special schools in the area, except one in Bizana, more than 100km away. "These pupils have learning barriers. One has even left to seek help in Gauteng," he said.

Some of the 25 pupils struggled to write, he said. There are 209 pupils between Grade R to Grade 7 at the school, situated in the remote Siqhumeni Village in the Goqwana administrative area, near Lusikisiki. He had approached the Department of Health for help but was referred back to the Department of Education.

"Health said the matter was in the hands of the Department of Education because it had its own psychologist," he said.

Dubedube, who arrived in 2012, defended his decision to enrol children with mental challenges. "I cannot turn those pupils away. Their parents want them to get an education irrespective of their handicap.

"Parents bring them to our school as they have nowhere else to take their children."

Education spokesman Mali Mtima said a team to investigate had been set up.

"The district director has instructed a team of officials to visit the school and investigate the matter today."

He apologised to the school and parents. - Loyiso Mpalantshane