Despite reports at the start of the year that Namibia’s only mainstream school catering for children with barriers to learning was facing closure, the Welwitschia School For Integrated Learning has shown the same resilience as its learners, having relocated to Brakwater, North of Windhoek, on 1 July, where it is making strides in unlocking the potential of learners who are often left on the wayside in other mainstream schools.
With the growing demand for education of Grade 1 to 12 learners challenged with among others dyslexia, autism and cerebral palsy, the premises in Eros could no longer accommodate the growing number of learners at the Welwitschia School, necessitating the move to Brakwater at the end of the first term.
Tiensy Dry, Principal of Welwitschia says: “Converting two existing houses into a school fit for our learners, has been a major challenge, particularly considering financial and time constraints, but absolutely worth it. Our learners love the wide open spaces and fresh air which our new premises offer. Yes, there is a lot of dust, and we need more classrooms, ablution and specialised facilities, but we are grateful that we can make a difference in the lives of 239 learners. And they certainly enhance our lives.”
According to School Board Chairperson, Aileen Botha, the school is embarking on a major fund-raising drive to erect more classrooms as school fees are not sufficient to cover the cost of development.”
Botha said: “Specialised education is more costly because of the higher teacher-learner ratios as well as the costs of specialised equipment, aids and teachers’ assistants. These costs are compounded further when additional interventions such as physiotherapy and speech therapy for example, come into play.
“This is all the more reason for us to be so grateful for the support we have received thus far from many stakeholders, be it Namibia Construction company that cleared the grounds to ensure the safety of our children, or the Ministry of Education who visited us to provide us with some valuable input – not to mention our teachers, learners and parents who have endured through the transition period. But if I look at what we have accomplished in less than four months, I am proud and excited that Welwitschia will soon enhance many more young Namibians’ lives.”