The Story of the Founding of the Special Learning Centre :

The Special Learning Centre was set up in 1993 to provide special education & training for children on the Island of Rodrigues .
It is the first and only centre on the Island that caters specifically for children with hearing impairments and visual impairment.

Paul Draper is an Englishman who came to Mauritius in 1974 . He took Mauritius Citizenship and was one of the founders of the Craft-Aid Sheltered Workshop Project in Rose Hill,Mauritius. In 1989 he moved to Rodrigues to start a Branch of « Craft-Aid » there.
One of the first people to join the Rodrigues Project was Gonzague Pierre Louis- a Blind Rodriguan.
In 1991 Mrs O.King Akerele who was the Representative of the United Nations Development Programme visited the small workshop project and made a donation towards a « school for handicapped children ». She did this in the name of Gonzague Pierre Louis when he told her of the difficulties he had had to get education and training.
In 1993 the organisation Enfance & Partage in Toulouse (France) donated the funds for the building of the School.
(see article Little thoughts-big effects)
The Rodrigues Administration(Government of Mauritius) leased the School a plot of land at Camp du Roi,Port Mathurin.
In 1994 the Minister for Rodrigues, Mr Serge Clair performed the opening Ceremony of the School .Mr. Bernard Lespine the President of Enfance & Partage in Toulouse was present.

Mrs Susan Auguste was appointed the Principal and Miss Morag Clark became the Consultant for the Special Education of the Hearing Impaired.
Ten profoundly deaf boys and girls became the first children to come to the school.

Today the Special Learning Centre has three classes of children.
There are 7 who are profoundly hearing impaired, 6 who have a severe or moderate visual impairment (partly blind) and there are 5 who have severe learning difficulties and were making no progress at all in normal school.

In addition the Centre provides support and care to a number of hearing and visually impaired children and adults who are nevertheless able to manage without coming full time to the school.
In all up to 60 people receive education, care and support services from the Special Learning Centre

The Training sheme.

This scheme was started two years ago to provide a process of training for the older children in the school who are too old for classes but too young to be employed in the CARECO(Formerly Craft-Aid) Rehabilitation and Production Workshop next door.

There are 10 children normally in the Training Scheme. They run a Canteen, Kitchen Garden and are also training handicrafts and beekeeping.

The Canteen.

This provides a freshly cooked hot meal for all the children in the School and Training Scheme, and operates Monday to Friday.
This is sponsored by various organisations.
The Boys and girls in the training Scheme do the Menu- the marketing, the cooking and serving and the clearing up afterwards.

Famous visitors.

In 1998 the British Tv Personality Rolf Harris and his wife Alwen were the Guests of Honour at the Official inauguration of the School buildings.

& Royalty
In 2001 Prince William visited the Centre during his stay in Rodrigues
In 2002 It was the turn of H.R.H Prince Michael of Kent to visit the Centre and

In 2003 H.R.H Prince Edward Earl of Wessex paid a brief Official visit.

The British Consulate on Rodrigues has a room in the Centre and Mrs Susan Auguste (The Principal of the School) is the Honorary British Consul.

Of the first 12 children who come to the Centre in 1992 ten are now employed in the Careco(Rodrigues) workshop.

The Future.

Each year we find four or five young children who need the Special support and care and the services of Special Education offered by our Centre.
All Hospitals,Community Health Centres, Pre-primary and Primary and Secondary Schools are aware of our existence and are contact regularly. We use the press and radio and TV to publicise our services and activities.
Those with hearing impairment are given the chance of Audiology and Audiometry and are provided with the best quality behind the ear hearing aids.
The services of an overseas expert consultant are obtained every two years or so.
Batteries for hearing aids are paid for by the users.
For the visually impaired the services of an opthalmologist and Optician are provded free.
Spectacles if necessary are provided.
We also help in emergencies with the obtaining of wheelchairs and where necessary diagnostic procedures for anyone on Rodrigues who comes to us for help.


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