A smart 10-year-old disabled boy’s dreams of going to school might finally come true after his father and education authorities managed to reach a settlement in the High Court in Pretoria.
The father, with the help of the Centre for Child Law (CCL), approached the court for an order compelling North West and Gauteng education authorities to place his son in a suitable school with hostel facilities after repeated failed attempts to get schooling for his son.
The legal battle was postponed indefinitely, after it was agreed that the Pretoria School for Cerebral Palsied Learners would admit the boy to its school and hostel next month. It was agreed that the boy would be assessed again at the end of the year to determine if the admission was in his best interest and the best interest of other pupils.
The North West education department undertook to appoint a properly trained full-time general assistant to care for and assist the boy at school while the Gauteng education department will appoint a full-time housekeeper to assist him at the hostel after hours.
The boy’s father said in court papers his son had cerebral palsy, was wheelchair bound and needed special care to assist with even his most basic needs, but was a smart, bright and amazing young man who had the potential to succeed at school despite his disability.
After trying since 2011 to have him placed in a school, his son was finally enrolled at the Meerhof special school in North West in 2015, only for the school to recommend his transfer to another school which could better accommodate his needs.
He said they were overjoyed when their son was admitted to Meerhof as they felt it was an answer to their prayers and that their son was now finally being treated with dignity. They then felt totally helpless as all further attempts to have him placed in a school failed.
The situation was heartbreaking and he felt incredibly frustrated and sad as he believed he was failing his son, who was forced to sit at home and be carried around like an infant while he should have been in school learning new skills, he said.
The situation was hardest on his son, who did not understand why he was not in school like all other children.