Under One Botswana Sky

Pat on the back for information, broadcasting services staff

Officers of the Departments of Information and Broadcasting Services in Kasane have been commended for raising funds and donating a wide range of goods and educational material to the Kachikau special education unit on October 25.

The Assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Mr Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri commended the team for restoring dignity to children living with disabilities by taking care of their needs and viewing them as individuals who also had a role to play in the society "By so doing, you are helping us push the mandate of the disability unit at the Office of the President by caring for the welfare of children with disabilities," he said.

The deputy permanent secretary (DPS) in the ministry, Mr Mogomotsi Kaboyamodimo also applauded the team for using money from their own pockets to make such a significant difference in the lives of these children.

He said this demonstrated that employees of the two departments were not all about office work, but they also cared about the welfare of the Chobe community.

The two departments donated two hand sewing machines, one electric sewing machine, a 4-in-1 printer, a laminating machine, two DSTV decoders, two magic tables, ten wood smart shapes, electric irons and teddy bears among other items.

Through fundraising initiatives such as a beauty contest, boat cruise, backyard garden and pledges from the team members, the team managed to raise enough funds to purchase some of the items that the school management had listed as priority items.

The special education unit is the only one in Chobe where children with different forms of disabilities are brought in to be taught in a specialised environment. Head of department, Ms Meginah Bridge said a total of 23 students are registered with the unit, 14 boys and nine girls.

She said one of the challenges that they are facing was that there is only one teacher for all these 23 students despite the fact that they have various forms of disabilities. And there is also one classroom and the unit also has eight caretakers, one of them being male a person.

"This ratio is not good because boys need male caretakers so that they are not stripped of their privacy by having to be under the care of female caretakers." She said.

Although the school is paved, Ms Bridge explained that the pavement only covers a small section of the school, so it limits the movement of those who are wheelchair bound.

Additionally, there is no dining hall for the students and no proper chairs and tables for the students with special needs. Coupled with shortage of educational materials specific to the students’ needs and lack of transport, the unit has had a lot of challenges to deal with.

The caretakers are not fairing any better either, as they work in shifts but, have no shift allowance and could do with proper training on handling children with disabilities. These and many more are some of the challenges that face the unit, Ms Bridge said. She expressed her gratitude towards the efforts of the two departments.

As a result of this project by the two departments, other organisations such as Chobe Safari Lodge and Botswana Red Cross Society (BRCS) stepped in to make their own donations. Chobe Safari Lodge donated towels, sheets, pillows, special educational materials, school bags, TV stands, DVD players among others, while BRCS donated mosquito nets.

Additionally, Chobe Safari Lodge also announced that they have decided to adopt the Kachikau special education unit through the Adopt-a-school initiative. Several companies and individuals also played a part in previous fundraising activities such as Chobe Marina Lodge, African Odyssey, Kasane Spar, Water Lily Lodge, Tshenyo's farm and Chobe Farms among others.

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