Agapé School for Special Needs gets new building extension for Autism
Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages (CCPB), the Rotary Club of Newlands, Corobrik, Stonehage Fleming Charitable Foundation and other partners, today celebrated the opening of a much-needed building extension at the Agape School for Special Needs in Mitchells Plain. The new buildings were purposefully built to cater for learners with Autism.
School Principal, Bernice Lambert “Agape School is grateful for the contribution by the funders of this worthy project. We are greatly in need of facilities for our learners with special needs. These four classrooms comprise phase one of our ambition to build a substantial centre. On behalf of the school and the School Governing Body, thank you.”
The opening of the new building extension also comes after the observation of World Autism Day on 2 April, which highlights the much-needed level of care and attention required for children with autism.
The building of four new classrooms comes as a welcome relief for the school, which provides support to children with special needs such as cerebral palsy and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This will allow for more learners to join the school and ensure that they are provided with access to good education.
The partnership was formed in early 2020 after the school and the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) approached RCN for assistance to evaluate, plan, fund and construct the extension of the school.
“Our partnership with RCN has allowed us to bring meaningful change to communities in need in the Western Cape. By bringing this extension to the Agapé School, we hope to create a safe space for the learners to grow,” says Priscilla Urquhart, Public Affairs and Communications Manager at CCPB.
“News of the building of the additional classrooms has attracted widespread attention from outlying areas including Worcester, Ceres and even outside of the Western Cape. This shows the dire need for formal educational structures for learners with autism. Typically, these learners are being cared for in their homes by family,” said Urquhart.
In addition to the four classrooms, the private sector investment into the extensions at Agapé has prompted the WCED to make funding available for a fifth classroom to be added on – a development project that RCN will also manage.
“We envisage a substantial ASD Centre with up to ten classrooms, a kitchen facility and treatment and assessment rooms, which will be vital for the school to continue to support those with special needs,” says John Winship of the RCN.
“We’re grateful to have had support and funding from our partners, CCPB, Stonehage Fleming Charitable Foundation and Corobrik. Our goal is to grow these kinds of partnerships so that ASD students from across the country can also benefit from facilities like those offered at the Agape School for Children with Special Needs,” he added.
South Africa has limited provision for education for children with special needs, and many schools that accommodate children with varying conditions, often need to seek private sector support. The investment is an encouraging move, bringing awareness to an important cause through an enabling partnership.