About Us

Educating the deaf in South Africa began in King William’s Town in 1888 with the opening of the King William’s Town Convent School for the Education of the Deaf.

In the early part of last century Johannesburg had only one small school for deaf children while the Cape had three.  With the help of the Minister of Education, it was decided to pool resources between the provinces.  The Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of St Catherine of Siena, King William’s Town, bought a ten acre property in Melrose, Johannesburg, called “The Haven”, and transferred the existing smaller school’s staff and children to the new premises.

 

The school was named St Vincent School for the Deaf after St Vincent Ferrer, a 14th century Dominican preacher who was renowned for restoring hearing to deaf people.

St Vincent has a proud history of educating deaf children for the past 75 years.  It currently has 270 pupils ranging in age from 22 months to 20 years.  Traditionally, St Vincent educated mostly white children, but over the last two decades the demographics have changed,  and now 81 % of the learners are black, almost 8% are white and the remaining 11% are made up of Indian and Coloured learners. A few of the learners live close by in areas such as Alex, Berea and Randburg, but the vast majority live beyond a 30km radius of St Vincent.  At least 15 of the learners come from other African countries, including the DRC, Gabon, Kenya and Nigeria.

The change in the school’s demographics reflects the improved medical care available to children from higher income-bracket families and, for those who can afford it, the impact of cochlea implant procedures that have successfully enabled many deaf children to hear.

 

Funding

The St Vincent property is owned by the Dominican Sisters and the rental which St Vincent pays the Dominican Sisters each year will be taken over by the Department of Education from next year.  The Department allocates a yearly subsidy to St Vincent and prescribes that it should be used as follows:

55% towards LTSM (Learning, Teaching and Support Material),
33% towards Municipal costs
12% towards Maintenance
There are many costs which are not covered by the Departmental subsidy, the most important of which are:

Audiology equipment (hearing aids) and extra staff

Vocational Programmes

Support staff (classroom assistants, administration staff, extra teachers to maintain small classes)
Sports equipment
General maintenance 

 

St Vincent Charitable Trust

The St Vincent Charitable Trust was set up 15 years ago to supplement government funding to the school.  It has relied primarily on donations from deceased estates, and is limited by its memorandum and articles to educational aids and the employment of extra specialist and support staff and their training.  The Trust is a registered PBO and has complied with all legal and financial requirements since its establishment.  It receives ongoing support from the following Trusts:

V F Clive Smith Trust
Norman Wevell Trust
The Little Tew Charitable Trust
Kathleen Bush Bell Foundation
G S Elkin Residuary Trust

George Elkin Charity Trust

St Vincent Charitable Trust is a registered Section 18A company.

 

Community Outreach

St Vincent runs fund-raising events during the year to assist their more needy learners.  The School’s Signing Choir gives presentations at various organizations and schools. St Vincent tries to share its facilities with others and welcomes Gauteng’s only Deaf Christian Mission (lead by a Deaf pastor) to their Chapel, the Gauteng Deaf Cricket team uses the Joint Campus cricket pitch and the Total Soccer Club uses the Joint Campus soccer field.  The School Hall is frequently used by other companies, deaf organizations and the Department of Education.  Wits students are welcomed to the school to do research on various social issues.

 

Pridwin

Pridwin Preparatory School, a private boys junior school, adjoins St Vincent School and both schools share sporting facilities and an auditorium on what is called the Joint Campus.  Opportunities for learners of both schools to interact are exploited as much as possible, with St Vincent learners teaching Sign Language to the Pridwin boys, sport matches being played between the two schools and staff collaborating on celebrations such as the World Cup and the St Vincent School-leaver’s Dance.  Pridwin parents assist with food donations during the year and especially at Easter and Christmas time.

 

Success stories

There are many graduate students of St Vincent who have gone on to make a significant contribution in society.  Of those whose parents could afford it, many went to Gallaudet University in Washington DC, the only university for deaf students in the world.

One of the most notable is Pat Hermann Shores who completed a BA from this institution and went on to the University’s of Alberta, New Brunswick and finally London where he completed a Masters degree in Education.  Helen Wenhold (nee Morgans) completed her BSc in Accountancy at Gallaudet University before going on to Stellenbosch University where she obtained a Masters degree in General Linguistics and a Masters Degree in Applied English Language Studies from Wits.  Dr Robert Simmons went to Wits where he obtained a BSc, Honours in Anatomy, Masters in Neuroanatomy, finally completing his PhD degree in Medicine.  Candice Morgan became Miss Deaf SA in 2003 and Miss Deaf World in 2004 and is now a Producer and Presenter on DeafTV.  Sports stars include Tadhg Slattery who was a Paralympic Champion, winning medals in five consecutive Paralympic Games from 1992 to 2008.  Three St Vincent graduates swam at the Deaflympic Games in 2005 and 2009.

The list of notable St Vincent graduates include actors, ballet dancers, teachers, lecturers, architects, preachers, website designers, cameramen, fashion and interior designers and many more.

 

Specific Needs

St Vincent requires a far higher level of teachers and teacher support staff per pupil than schools for children without disabilities.  Accordingly, the school sees an immediate need for the following:

- Bursary scheme for indigent families
- More support staff, including speech and occupational therapists,
Translators and psychologists
- Computers, smart boards, Autocad
- Assistance with transport
- Sponsorship of the school hostel (which is currently closed) for learners
needing to travel more than 60kms to get to school each day
 

Sponsors

St Vincent School is sponsored by: