Following the opening of schools in South Africa, Education Counsellor, Portia King shared her insights on how teachers can shape the future of learners who suffer from multi-intellectual disabilities by offering effective guidance.
“Pupils who struggle with basic things such as reading, writing or calculating are not incapable of learning but need to be pointed in the right direction,” said King. She emphasized that teachers must look for signs that pupils are struggling, including an inability to keep up with other pupils when it comes to writing or understanding. This means that these teachers can help.
“Pupils who have difficulty learning can show varying symptoms, such as not being able to spell [simple words] by the time they are in Grade Four. Some pupils struggle with numbers whilst also not doing well in subjects that don’t need a lot of counting,” said King.
She suggested that teachers engage with parents to develop a learning programme for the child. She said if this does not help, another option is to consider enrolling a pupil in a school where there will be less academic theory and more of a vocational learning programme.
“Pupils with learning difficulties can be best taught through vocational training as this is more of practical education and artisan skills development programme than it is academic. With vocational education, pupils learn through doing more than they do from reading a book,” added King.
Olympia School of Skills in George in the Western Cape offers vocational education to 475 pupils who have been identified as not coping at academic schools.
“We take pupils from the age of 15 years who have been identified as having learning difficulties. Pupils are identified by teachers at primary school level. The teachers recommend pupils for enrolment at our school through the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE) district office in the Southern Cape,” said the Principal of school,Gerhard Haupt.
In order for a pupil to be enrolled at the school, a teacher must contact the district DBE office, which will then do an assessment to determine if the child should be enrolled there.
One of the application requirements states that the learner must have failed twice at primary school level for them to be considered for enrolment. Once enrolled, pupils will be taught vocational subjects such as needlework, bricklaying, agriculture and welding, as well as mathematics and life skills.