Public Protector calls for more action on autism, donates funds to schools and autism organisation
Friday, 15 January 2016
Autism is not a problem that is defined by class, race, religion or societal issues, it affects all of us, Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela said on Thursday.
She was speaking at her office’s special donation ceremony at the Ligno Vitae Academy in Silverton, Pretoria where she handed over a combined donation of R50 000 to two schools and an autism organisation.
The beneficiaries are Ligno Vitae academy, ES Le Grange School for learners with special needs and Autism South Africa.
Adv. Madonsela said autism should not be viewed as only a challenge to the developing world as it affected the developed world too. She warned society would lose the fight against it if everything was left in the hands of parents and teachers of acoustic children.
The Public Protector said challenges experienced by the teachers in schools dealing with children of special needs and parents elsewhere, called for a concerted effort towards dealing with it and its associated challenges.
In her appeal to government, Adv. Madonsela asked for resources to be made available for schools and organisations dealing with such children.
Adv. Madonsela said it was worrying that parents of some autistic children in the country opted to keep them at home instead of sending them to school.
She said told the attendants drawn mainly from government departments, business sector and civil society, that this reality confronted the country almost two decades into the constitutional democracy that promised an improved quality of life for all and a freed potential of every person.
This promise, the Public Protector said, is not just vaguely articulated in the preamble but cemented in section 28, section 29 read with section 9, is not meant for some but to all, including the children with disability and autism.
Adv. Madonsela added the promise is based on an illusion of equality as the country’s reality at the dawn of democracy but a concrete appreciation of continuing structural disparity as a result of past legalised discrimination on the grounds of race
The Public Protector labelled the Equality Act as a tool that could be used to help chip away brick by brick the visible legacies of the country’s unjust past.
She said the implementation of the Act would be a perfect starting point towards achieving a constitutional promises to among others autistic children.
Representing the Gauteng provincial government at the event, MECs for Education and Social Development Panyaza Lesufi and MEC Molebatsi Bopape both focused on the challenges facing their own departments in dealing with autism.
MEC Bopape said her department was there as a partner and urged society to put all its hands on the deck and ensure that challenges brought by autism were dealt with.
She said by doing that the society can pride itself to have contributed towards achieving what the Constitution promises every citizen of this country, including the people living with disability.
MEC Lesufi declared his unrivalled support of the initiative by the Public Protector assuring the beneficiaries and other schools in the province dealing with autistic learners that he would ensure that the resources were made available to help them.
MEC Lesufi told the principal of the academy that in him, her school and others in the province had a fighter, a union and an ally.
Speaking from the business perspective and on behalf of the South African Rewards Association (SARA), partners of the Public Protector’s corporate social investment programme, President, Ms Lindiwe Sebesho said their partnership through Adv. Madonsela and her presence at the event gave them a chance to sense the real challenges faced by the school and autistic learners in general.
She said what she has seen touched her heart and called for more to be done by business and professionals in the country. SARA contributed R15 000 to the event.
The donation to the schools is part of the Public Protector CSI initiative which in 2015 decided that its funds would be contributed towards autism and education causes.
The Black Business Council, represented by Chief Executive Mr Mohale Ralebitso also donated R15 000, shared by the schools and Autism South Africa while Joan Joffe became a good samaritan when she pledged to re-enrol a girl who had just dropped out from the school because her grandmother could no longer afford the fees.
Relief group Gift of the Givers was also present to support the initiative.
Adv. Madonsela has already donated R30 000 towards construction of a school hall at the Aurora Girls High School in Zola, Soweto. Other funds will be contributed to an institution of high learning tertiary.
The Public Protector describes her office’s contribution to the causes identified as that of a catalyst to urge businesses to contribute.
For more information contact:
Ms Belinda Moses
Acting Manager: Executive Support
Public Protector South Africa
012 366 7067