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October 10, 2005

President opens Boyeyi deaf unit

From: Republic of Botswana - Gaberones,Botswana - Oct 10, 2005

MAUN - President Festus Mogae says the fact that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play a significant role, as the countrys forerunners in the provision of education for people with special needs cannot be overemphasized.
When officially opening a deaf unit within the Boyei Primary School in Maun on Friday, Mogae said, government alone cannot fully satisfy the demand for special education for all.

It is therefore apparent that this is an area in which NGOs will need to continue to play a significant role, he said, adding that in many communities NGOs have acted as alternative service providers a move which government most welcomes.

He said such partnerships have been very crucial in assisting government help people with disabilities as well as an example of how the public sector can work together with NGOs and the donor community to make a positive difference in the lives of those most in need.

In the immediate post-independence era, the President said, it was the Dutch Reformed Church in Mochudi that established the first centre for the blind and that many other local initiatives have followed over the years.

To-date there are 17 additional NGO-run centres throughout the country that offer special education and rehabilitation services he pointed out.

He added that the Revised National Policy on Education has embraced NGOs as vital partners that government must support unreservedly.

The establishment of Boyei Special Unit for the deaf has now increased such facilities from five to six in the country, said Mogae, adding that the facility was handed over to the North West District Council (NWDC) in 2004 after its completion.

The facility comprises four classrooms, 64 capacity hostels for boys and girls, a matrons house and a kitchen.

The NWDC is expected to equip the buildings as well as provide staff. The project came about after two social workers from Tshidilo Stimulation centre and Thuso Lutheran Rehabilitation Centre in Maun discovered that a considerable number of young children with hearing impairments in the district were not accessing education in the two existing schools for the deaf at Ramotswa and Francistown.

After consulting widely a local Deaf Unit Steering Committee was formed with an immediate objective of soliciting funds for the construction of an integrated unit for the deaf in the area.

The fund raising efforts were rewarded when the Finish Evangelical Lutheran Mission with the support of the Finish Association for the Deaf and the Finish Government donated P2.7 million towards the proposed project.

The President further thanked the Southern African Deaf Empowerment Programme (SADEP) for being instrumental in training deaf specialist teachers in sign language interpretation including signs for HIV/AIDS. So far 53 teachers have been able to receive such training.

Meanwhile, the deputy head of mission at the Finish embassy, Perti Anttinen, pointed out that the relationship between Botswana and Finland have always been good, adding that Botswanas record of good governance, peace and stability stands out in the SADC region.

He said the Finish government has a commitment to fight poverty by assisting disadvantaged groups of people especially in the developing countries and hoped that the Boyei project would go a long way in improving the lives of many children with hearing impairments in the district.

When welcoming guests Batawana deputy paramount chief, Kgosi Mathiba Moremi said it was disheartening to recall that in the past children born with peculiar disabilities were shunned by society, adding that in extreme circumstances they were eliminated.

I am happy that today such children are catered for so much that their future is bright, said Kgosi Mathiba. BOPA

© 2005 Republic of Botswana