Article that appeared in
the Sowetan newspaper:
Ningizimu's Special People, Friday May 21 1999.
By Siphiwe Mpye (retyped by the Thinkquest team)
Ningizimu School for the Severely Mentally Handicapped in Montclair, Durban has been nominated for the Miracles in Education School of the Month Competition.
Ningizimu is a special school that caters for children in and around the Durban area. Despite their disabilities, the children produce the most amazing artwork, says Robin Oppermanm, their art teacher.
Opperman has been with the school for more than 10 years, during which he has been instrumental in the establishment of a programme called the A4 project. The project involves the use of art against the Aids epidemic. Workshops will be held at Ningizimu and later this year there will be an exhibition displaying all the work done during this time.
According to Opperman, who shares his students' passion for art, various students have had the opportunity of going overseas to display their artistic talents through exhibitions in Europe and the United States.
The school does not only teach art. "We offer normal academic classes, woodwork, home economic, physical education and various sports," says Opperman.
There are a number of Ningizimu students who have made their institution proud on the sports field. "The school is a member of the Special Olympics and a number of the children represented South Africa in Canada last year and this year there is one going to North Carolina," he said.
The biggest success stories coming out of this school are the children who get employment after their time at Ningizimu. The school receives trememdous support from the Department of Manpower in this regard, as it places appropriate candidates in various jobs.
Those who are not fortunate enough to get jobs are assimilated into workshops and acquire skills that they can use once they are employed. The school has been up and running for many years and has had support from the Department of Education, the community and the private sector.
Opperman adds: "We receive a subsidy from the Goverment but that is not enough, seeing that it is constantly being cut. The private sector is extremely helpful as we receive assistance from companies such as Comair and the Playhouse Theater Company."
He is enthusiatic about an information technology company that recently estblished a web page dedicated to the school. The site, designed by Sheer Design, supplies the public with information on the school and its activities.
He hopes that the information will enlighten the public, who often think that "we are running a mental asylum". "This helps those who do come, as it makes it easier for them to help us out," he says.
Miracles in Education is a nation building and Culture of Learning, Teaching and Service (Colts) Initiative of Sowetan, the national Education Department's Colt directorate, SABC, Iscor and the Read Educational Trust.