Airports Company South Africa celebrated the unveiling of the newly refurbished and expanded Nombuso Disability Development Centre in Ndwedwe, Kwazulu-Natal, recently.
The handover was celebrated by Deputy Minister of the Department of Social Development, Mrs Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, KZN MEC for Social Development, Mrs Weziwe Thusi and Airports Company South Africa management, along with the learners and teachers who expressed their delight with the upgraded facilities that will support the improvement of educational outcomes in the rural school.
Airports Company South Africa’s Group Executive for Corporate Affairs Refentse Shinners, said: “This project, which forms part of the Izingane kuQala pilot project for persons with disabilities has highlighted the power and importance of partnerships in bringing about inclusive growth and upliftment in vulnerable communities. If we are going to ensure inclusive growth and opportunities in the communities in which we operate, it’s imperative that we work in ongoing partnerships, where government, families, organs of civil society and the corporate sector all work towards a common goal, rather than in silos.”
The centre, which currently houses 32 children with physical and intellectual disabilities as well as six volunteers, will now be able to cater for the hundreds of learners with disability on the waiting list within the district.
In place of the old, dilapidated structure, Airports Company South Africa has built a new disability friendly school with four classrooms (one stimulation room), computer laboratories with laboratory furniture, a fully furnished and equipped administration block that includes a reception and waiting area, a kitchen/dining area with storage, sick bays, two jungle gyms, sports facilities and ablution facilities for learners and staff.
“Children with disabilities living in rural under-serviced communities often find themselves confined to their homes and deprived of any meaningful early childhood development services and educational opportunities. This doesn’t have to be so, and Airports Company South Africa is passionate about providing educational opportunities and support for people with disabilities in the communities surrounding our airports.”
“As part of Airports Company South Africa’s socio-economic development strategy, we also support the development of emerging businesses operating in communities we support. As part of this project, Airports Company South Africa empowered a female contractor Bavelile Trading and Projects (appointed for the construction of the school), through its enterprise and supplier development programme,” Shinners said.
The contractor received project management support, which includes technical skills, safety and environmental compliance – ensuring an accident and safety incident free report during the construction of the school. This project contributed immensely to local procurement and created 71 employment opportunities for locals in the area. This empowerment exercise will assist in increasing the contractor’s CIBD level, which will see the contractor compete with bigger players in the construction industry in the future.
Airports Company South Africa is a state-owned company of the Department of Transport and a strategic partner of Project Izingane kuQala. Other partners to the project include Dalton Sugar Lodestar Foundation, ESKOM, Tongaat Hullets and the MTNSA Foundation. The centre will also be registered and supported by both Department of Social Development and Basic Education.