Qaanitah Hunter- Cii News- August 10, 2012
A Johannesburg school catering for children with Autism for the last 39 years is facing closure as they are left without funding.
The Key School, based in Parktown, provides a school environment offering appropriate care, curricula and professional expertise for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The school is a registered NPO and relies partly on school fees and partly on donations but according to principal, Dr Jenni Gous, donors have backed out and the school now faces closure within the next month.
“We need half a million rand to survive until the end of the year and we need a million a year for the school to exist,” Gous said.
She however said that government assistance would be ideal to make the school sustainable but efforts in that regard have been in vain.
“We have been getting some promises but nothing is yet in the bank account and we will have to close our doors if there is no immediate help,” Gous said.
Autism affects approximately 1 in 100 children yet the government offers 2 schools in Gauteng only and each take a maximum of 150 children.
Parents are desperate as the school closure essentially means an end to the hope given to their children.
Kathija Ally Sheikh, a parent whose child attends The Key School said all 33 pupils have no where else to go should the school close down.
“The government won’t assist and I am afraid these kids will be immensely affected,” she told Cii News.
“Nevertheless, the common problems affecting social interaction, communication and imagination and the repetitive behaviour are common to all.”
Nicola Killops, parent to 8 year old James, said she is grateful to have found the Key School after being rejected by various other schools.
“This wonderful school embraced my son and from day 1 he thrived. My son is happy, confident and finally able to have a school experience that does not bring,” she said.
She said as parents there were not prepared to accept the very notion of a desperately needed school closing and “they will go to the ends of the earth to try to secure funding to make sure it does not happen.”
For further information on the school visit: http://www.thekeyschool.org/index.php