Article and photos By Amn Lebogang Ramaboea, AD ASTRA
The Bushveld Airspace Control Sector (BACS) donated ten
bicycles, five soccer balls and four cricket sets to Alma
School, located in Eloffsdal, west of Tshwane, on 25
The school has learners from the age of 3 to 21 years old.
Alma is for children in desperate need of specialized
education in physical and mental care. The approximately 215
learners come from various races from the city of Tshwane
The institute accommodates children suffering from cerebral
palsy, various physical and severe intellectual
disabilities, such as blindness, deafness, syndromes and
epilepsy. Some of them have multiple disabilities.
In an interview with AD ASTRA magazine, Mrs Elze Finaughty,
the school’s personal assistant said: “As a school, we are
happy to be visited by the South African Air Force (SAAF)
every year. The SAAF always brings bundles of gifts and joy
to the children. The Air Force is an integral part of us;
with them we are a family that gets stronger. It is very
costly to render specialized services to our learners”.
Mrs Finaughty noted that the school received a subsidy from
the Education Department, but it is not deemed to be enough.
Much of the funds, she said, they raised themselves with
initiatives like buddy-buddy day (wheelchair race), school
concert, fête, casual day, interspes (school sport day),
Ubuntu tea (thank you function), morning tea and coin
Alma School also manages a feeding scheme and a transport
system. Food is only offered to those children who cannot
afford to bring lunchboxes from home. She also noted that
some of the children stayed with unemployed parents and
grandparents as well as single parents. They have six
mini-buses covering the whole Tshwane Metropolitan area.
The children are picked up from home to school and taken
back afterwards. It would be a huge expense for them to use
public transport, as the sector did not cater for their
special needs. The school, enduring a big financial burden,
runs the system them self.
One of the children is 17-year-old Dio Marole, who plays
drums and a tambourine for the school’s band, comes from
Orchards, north of Tshwane. In an interview with AD ASTRA
magazine, he said: “Our school is the best in the world with
good teachers and we are one big family with its challenges.
I always boast to my friends about our facilities. We are
not stupid, as people think we cannot fend for ourselves.”
He proudly says: “Disability does not mean inability, at
home I wash dishes and do other chores. My best friend is
Gert Greeff who’s my age”. The students spend most of their
time at school, with classes starting at 08h30 ending at
13h30. This is a school that strives to equip its pupils
with life skills for them to play a meaningful role in life.
Then, they would be enabled to live with dignity and good
The institute is divided into 17 classes. The curriculum
consists of five phases namely: the toddler, junior,
intermediate, senior and a Further Educational Training
(FET) phase. The computer room helps them communicate with
children of other schools.
The relationship between the SAAF and Alma school started in