16 June 2019


Taung’s Boichoko Disability Centre pleads for help  

by: Obakeng Maje     date: 06 july 2018

Boichoko Disability Centre in Rooiwal village in Taung is taking care of 27 disabled children, who come from the most disadvantaged families in that village. 
While the centre has been doing this for four years, a stand-off with the Department of Social Development threaten to put brakes on its growth into an accredited disability centre.
Boichoko Disability Centre currently operates from a shack and needs a decent brick building to continue housing these disabled children. The founder of this centre, Tshegofatso Jack (42), told Semphete that the children share her house with her for sleeping at night and that the shack is only used as a learning centre during the day. She is hoping for some assistance to have a proper building. 
Jack said she established this centre because she realised that there are many disadvantaged and disabled children around Taung and their parents do not know where to take them.
“Boichoko Disability Centre provides special education like sign language. We are doing this without any financial and professional support,” she said. 
“We have approached the North West Education and Sport Development and Social Development departments for assistance, but our requests were in vain,” she said. 
Jack, who also has a child who is deaf and mute, said her daughter Boichoko uses sign language. She named the centre after her. Jack said she knows the challenges other parents of disabled children like her are going through.
“There is no sign language school around Taung and that is a challenge. The children at the centre pay R700 per month, but some parents cannot afford it.
“I use my pocket money in most cases because some children come from deprived families,” Jack said.
She told Semphete that the Social Development department has also threatened to shut the school down. 
“I urge anyone who can assist us with anything like food hampers, building materials to come forward,” Jack said.
She said nurses and doctors visit the centre regularly to ensure that the children are healthy. Jack works with the help of18 volunteers, but she cannot give them any stipend because of financial constraints.
North West Social Development spokesperson, Petrus Siko, had this to say: “First and foremost the children at this centre are receiving disability grant. As a way of intervention, our social workers had several engagements with the owners of the centre.
“Boichoko Disability Centre is nearer to Lokgabeng Disability Centre, which has enough space to admit people with disability from Boichoko.”
Siko said Lokgabeng Disability Centre complies with the norms and standards required to operate as a disability centre, unlike Boichoko. Lokgabeng Disability Centre is funded by the department.
“In addition, plans are afoot to establish a residential care facility in Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati in the next few years,” Siko said. 
Democratic Alliance (DA) Provincial Spokesperson on Social Development, Dr Tutu Faleni, said the party is concerned about the state of Boichoko. 
“We are concerned by the continued rejection of Boichoko Disability Centre for the disabled by the North West Department of Social Development. The management of the school has been operating the centre for four years without any assistance from the provincial Social Development Department. This is in spite of requests made by the DA in the past that the MEC should help schools such as Boichoko Disability Centre to qualify for financial subsidy.”
Faleni said the DA would write an urgent memorandum to Social Development MEC and urge him to grant financial and professional support to the centre.