The Guard

The Truth On Board

Special needs graduates aim high

By Masilo Malakwane

QWAQWA –Mmadisebo Ledimo, a wheelchair-bound former community radio presenter, is optimistic that her graduation will open doors for her, especially going into business which will enable her to employ fellow persons living with disability.

Ledimo graduated with a higher certificate in Generic Management Studies from the Cumlaude Institute for Disability, courtesy of Food and Beverages Sector Education and Training Authority (Seta).

She and 47 other students received their papers at a graduation ceremony held last Friday at Phuthaditjhaba multipurpose hall.

Ledimo told The Guard that she will be looking to establish her own business that will employ people living with special needs.

“I am humbled, and I accept this achievement with great humility. I have learned lot of critical points such as the importance of convening high-level meetings with a certain level of professionalism. This knowledge will definitely stand me in good stead in the future,” she said.

Graduates living with disability during their graduation ceremony.

Reflecting on the challenges faced by persons living with disability, Ledimo said it is offensive when people assume they need assistance and start extending a helping hand unsolicited.

“Ask me what kind of assistance I need. Do not treat me like I am less of a human being and take decisions on my behalf.”

She said accepting the reality of living with disability is very hard for those who were not born without disability because they know the freedom that comes with doing everything on their own.”

Her classmate who has albinism, Palesa Keele, said she is going to do great things with the knowledge she received through the learnership. Keele, who believes her disability does not make her any different from other people, shared her challenges as a special needs person.

“I used to get cold feet and had low self-esteem every time I got invited to job interviews because of a lack of necessary skills and knowledge. But now that I have been taught and been provided with the required information and skills, I’m ready to conquer the world,” Keele said.

Madisebo Ledimo at her graduation ceremony held at Phuthaditjhaba multi-purpose hall.

At the same occasion, the chief executive officer of Cumlaude Institute, Tsholo Mopeli said all the 48 graduates have been able to get exposure to various courses aimed at enhancing their skills.

“It is a great achievement for us an institute to have managed to get this far; regardless of the challenges that come with working with people of special needs, we did our best,” Mopeli said.

He also stated that after providing the training to their students, they go the extra mile and become part of a targeted recruitment drive for disabled people initiated by them in various sectors.

Meanwhile, the chief executive officer of the Food and Beverages Seta which funded Cumlaude institute, Nokuthula Silamulele said the learnerships they offered the institute are much needed in the country and will enable the graduates to start their own businesses if they want to, or be able to get a decent job.

“The aim is to capacitate learners with special needs and capacitate them get skills as we facilitate their skills development in various institutes with skills that are required and ensure they are absorbed in the corporate world. We also want to  challenge them to take other technical skills that will enable them to start their own businesses,” Silamulele concluded.