Eros School, which has been rooted in the educational sector of the disabled community for almost 50 years, embarked on a campaign to raise R2 million to cover its operational costs.
The school is appealing to the public, small businesses, corporates, foundations and institutions to raise the money to assist its hostel, catering for children who live too far from the school to be transported daily.
Eros currently accommodates 350 pupils and offers dual medium academic tuition (English and Afrikaans) from Grade R to Grade 12.
According to principal Samuel Julius, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) subsidises the school, but the funds are insufficient to cover all the daily running costs.
When the Athlone News asked the WCED whether the subsidy criteria were different for special needs schools, spokesperson Millicent Merton confirmed this, adding: “The WCED uses a different model for public special schools funding where each special school receives a weighting according to the programme that they offer. The total funding is substantially more compared to a public ordinary school with the same number of pupils. Pupils in the hostel, as well as pupils using transport provided by the school, are subsidised by the department. Allocations are calculated based on pupil enrolment. If a school’s pupil enrolment decreases, it affects the school’s allocation.”
Many of the parents who enrol their children at the school cannot afford to pay the school fees of R7 810 a year, which include transportation fees, as most of the pupils get bused in every day. To compensate for this, the school has to raise funds privately to cover operational costs.
Said Mr Julius: “Eros School is an integral institution and provides an essential service to pupils that would otherwise be disempowered, marginalised and forgotten.
“We invest in the potential of our pupils, choosing to focus and develop what they are able to do, empowering them to embrace their independence in as far as they are able and actively contribute to the betterment of the communities they live in and will later work in.
“Special needs education has always been a costly endeavour because of the individual attention required by each of our pupils, but there is an overwhelming need for the services we offer and therefore Eros continues to uplift and develop otherwise-abled children in the often previously disadvantaged communities we serve.”
Initially the school primarily focused on helping pupils suffering from cerebral palsy as a result of injury or under development of the brain. It has since expanded to accommodate pupils with learning difficulties, as well as other physically challenged pupils with muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, syndromes or genetic abnormalities.
Thousands of special needs children have passed through the doors of Eros since it opened on 2 September 1969 in Wynberg, among them Paralympians, leaders in business, civic and community organisations. Providing special needs children with the skills they need for their own independence, while also equipping them with the strong foundations they need to become change agents in society.
Since its humble beginnings, Eros School has permanently established itself in Bridgetown, where every pupil receives unique, individual attention and benefits from various programmes developed by the school’s specialised staff which include academic teachers, speech therapists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, nurses, nurse aids, drivers, general assistants, as well as volunteers.
Mr Julius emphasised that while the school welcomed donations from a broad spectrum of donors, it is often the giving of individuals, small businesses, churches and mosques who provided the fund streams needed for an institution such as Eros School to survive.
He added that a donation of R100 a month on an ongoing basis will make a difference in the life of a child at Eros School.
Should you, your company or foundation wish to contribute financially to the school, you are welcome to contact the school fund-raiser, Ellen Dreyer on 076 112 9487 or Eros School at 021 637 9080.