False Bay College receives National Disability Award and Prize
At an official handover ceremony held on Monday 16 February 2015 at its Muizenberg campus, False Bay College received the National Disability Award Prize for its contribution to inclusivity and access for students with disabilities.
Honourable Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, Deputy Minister of the Department of Social Development, attended both events, acknowledging the role of False Bay College, as attested to by its learners, in its inclusive approach to students with disabilities.
She emphasised the power of education to transform lives, the fundamental importance of integration into the workplace and the deployment of technology to meet some of the challenges that learners with disabilities face.
However Bogopane-Zulu also emphasised the need to ensure that the basics are in place, such as braille for the blind and partially sighted learners. Braille is the equivalent of a pen and paper for sighted students and should always serve as the foundation towards higher learning, rather than rely solely on technology as the conduit. Here Bogopane-Zulu speaks from her own experience as a partially-sighted person whose early learning in braille ensured her own access to knowledge and opportunities.
The prize, sponsored by the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA), constitutes a braille printer and stylus, Duxberry and Open Book software as well as a Pal Camera to convert text documents into braille. These assistive devices will be installed at the Khayelitsha campus, with a view to standardising the same equipment across all the False Bay College campuses.
Inclusivity has long been a priority for False Bay College and Principal Mr Cassie Kruger acknowledged the important contributions made by Deputy Principal, Karen Hendrickse and occupational therapist, Adele Ebrahim, to this end.
He emphasised the need for inclusivity to be the norm rather than be represented as a 'specialist' endeavour across all tertiary institutions. Furthermore it could not be expected that industries employ people with disabilities if training establishments do not create the prerequisite access and opportunities.
Sign language interpreter, Michelle Lombard, accompanied the speaker presentations with a line-up that included Deputy Director-General, Mr Mzolisi Toni, Mr Kruger, Colette Apolles from ACSA, ANC Councillor, Mr Freddie Adams, Honourable Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, Nicholas Stevens (FBC student), and Ms Karin Hendricks.
In attendance were delegates from parliament, ANC officials, False Bay College executive management and staff, College Council members, DHET officials and representatives from the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA).
ACSA has over the past 10 years contributed R40.8m of its CSI spend towards projects near the airport that contribute to the development of the surrounding communities. The aim is to create meaningful, sustainable change within economically depressed areas.
Akin to this vision, is False Bay's College response to the particular needs and challenges of local communities, such as those of Vrygrond, Lavender Hill, Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha, to name a few.
ANC Councillor, Mr Freddie Adams describes False Bay College as a 'beacon of hope' for the children in the aforementioned communities. Having witnessed first-hand the transformation of young learners' lives that have received bursaries and been welcomed at False Bay College, Mr Adams underlines the importance of education in bringing about social change within these communities.
Unlocking potential is a priority at the college, a value recognised by Nicholas Stevens, a visually impaired student at the Fish Hoek campus who offered commendation to the staff and students of False Bay College that have made him feel welcome and included. In his final year, Nicholas is studying office administration and is one of the 4.5% of students with disabilities across its five campuses.
Furthermore False Bay College is the only TVET Institution that employs two qualified occupational therapists who have the expertise to evaluate students and provide individual support plans to them.
When a student with a disability applies for admission to False Bay TVET College and voluntarily discloses their disability status, they will be referred to the occupational therapist who will evaluate whether their selected course can be adapted to accommodate them.
The occupational therapist will also put forward recommendations as to what type of support the student will need e.g. specialised technology and equipment, ergonomic adaptations, alternative print formats, note taking, scribes and class and exam concessions.
This willingness to spearhead inclusion and transform the TVET landscape could not be achieved without a strong leadership that prioritises action and puts learners at the forefront of development. These efforts, acknowledged through awards and prizes, offer a spotlight onto what can be achieved and hopefully the benchmark for every higher institution of learning.