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June 27, 2005

Deaf pupils dance for joy as they shed past

From: Independent Online, South Africa - Jun 27, 200

By Linda Mbongwa

The days when the special class of the Sizwile School for the Deaf was taught in a shed are over.

Now the pupils will be taught in a newly renovated class, while they and their schoolmates enjoy a good night's sleep on brand new mattresses, thanks to a donation of R250 000 from the Eskom Development Foundation.

Without the usual cheer and noise one would expect at such functions, the pupils at Sizwile expressed their joy and excitement by clapping hands and smiling broadly when their school received the donation last week.

Dancers from the school entertained guests during the ceremony to present stationery and schoolbags to the children.

One of the two deputy principals, Michelle Batchelor, said the dancers, all of them with impaired hearing, felt the beat of the music through their bodies.

The school, in Dobsonville, Soweto, caters for 213 pupils who are hard of hearing and speech-impaired, from Grade 0 to matric, with boarding facilities available to pupils between the ages of 4 and 12 who live far from the school.

Deputy principal Bongiwe Dladla said the donation had also helped to renovate the school's special class for pupils who are not only hard of hearing but mentally handicapped as well.

"We've been using an izozo (shed) as a classroom for our special class for years. Now the kids will be having lessons in a newly renovated class," Dladla said.

The boarders were excited with their new lockers as they formerly kept their clothing underneath their beds.

Reuel Khoza, who chairs Eskom Holdings, said his company would assist the school in whatever way it could. He commended the teachers for their work.

Bheki Zulu, 20, a Grade 11 pupil and chairperson of the student representative council, said through a sign-language interpreter that he was happy to receive the stationery and the donations.

Zulu said the dance routine performed was to show normal people that, although the dancers were hard of hearing, they could still express and enjoy themselves through music.

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