South Africa
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Special needs school aims to narrow employment gap for special needs students

Cape Town - In light of providing a safe and well-equipped facility that will offer sheltered employment opportunities, the Noluthando Sheltered Employment Trust (NSET) officially opened its doors to the Noluthando School for Special Needs in Khayelitsha today.

As the school was originally founded to provide tuition to learners with hearing impairments, it was soon realised that technical developments were still needed in order to enable learners with the necessary skill set. Hence, the school needed specialised classroom facilities and tuition for children with autism.

Since 2008, nineteen classrooms have been built or refurbished at the campus, including the construction of a new Treatment Assessment Centre, making The Ackerman Family Educational Trust and the Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages and other corporations the funding individuals that contributed to these projects.

Under the guidance of NSET CEO Arthur Cowley, the trust will continue to evaluate the initial beneficiaries, who will be drawn from the Noluthando Autism Centre and will acquire the necessary skills set that will match the type of work that would be possible and meaningful in today's society.

“With this unique project, we will be able to cater for young adults with autism who have graduated from school and will act as a life orientation programme. Hoping to cater more in the future, we are looking to start with 10 beneficiaries, and eventually, we will be able to accommodate more, with ages ranging from your normal school ages, from 18 and upwards,” said Cowley.

With funding provided by The Ackerman Family Educational Trust and Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages (CCPB), the school's expansion catered for a large building on their grounds available for refurbishment.

Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages communications manager Priscilla Urquhart said with barriers that people with special needs often face, they are humbled to be part of the legacy that will aid in providing the critical skills set needed.

“People with special needs often face barriers to education, and often, finding work once they finish their education is almost impossible. A facility like NSET will provide students with the opportunity to learn and grow and eventually fully participate in society.”

"With this being the third project that CCPB has supported at the school in the past four years, the CCPB continues to be a leading force in the communities we operate in so that we may continue to make the difference that matters. We are privileged to be able to do this through our partnership with Rotary Club Newlands and are humbled to be part of the legacy of the school by filling a critical need within the community,” said Urquhart.

The Ackerman Family Trust founder Wendy Ackerman said that with the official opening of the facility, she is hoping that in the not-too-distant future, students are able to develop exceptional skills that will allow them to join the workforce.

“The Ackerman Family Educational Trust is very pleased that this project has gotten off the ground so quickly, and the Sheltered Employment Workshop is about to officially open. We are looking forward to training these young people, and we hope that in the not-too-distant future, some of them will join the workforce,” said Ackerman.