THE HISTORY OF THE CAREL DU TOIT CENTRE

The Carel du Toit Centre for Hearing Impaired Children was founded by Prof Carel du Toit, an Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon and Head of the ENT Department at Tygerberg Hospital.

On a visit to the UK in 1963, he met Prof Edith Whetnall, an ENT working with young deaf children. She passionately believed that through early intervention, a deaf child could learn spoken language.

This inspired Prof du Toit to start the Carel du Toit Centre for Hearing Impaired Children. On his return, he began planning an early intervention programme, utilising his department at Tygerberg Hospital. Five selected staff members visited programmes in the UK, Europe and USA.

In 1971, the first intervention programme was started in a Medical Research Council building. Matthys Visser was the first child to benefit from this programme. At the time, circumstances were favourable, as there was no shortage of funds.

The new Tygerberg training hospital was being built, and a complex to house the Centre on the grounds was built simultaneously. The Carel du Toit Centre for Hearing Impaired Children officially opened its doors here in 1973 with two teachers, Mary Jourdan and Ena Visser, and four pupils.

The method used to teach deaf children to speak was based on that of the Central Institute for the Deaf in USA. Taking children on outings is used as a springboard for language acquirement. The Centre still uses this method most successfully today.

Over the years the centre has worked very closely with Tygerberg Hospital, specifically with the Cochlear Implant Team. In the early years the school benefited from all the facilities of the hospital, i.e. audiology, speech therapy, ENT, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, etc. Teachers were appointed in posts as Tygerberg Hospital “Technologists”.

In 1980 the Western Cape Education Department became involved and started providing teaching posts, as well as an annual subsidy to the Centre. Financially, the Centre started struggling as the number of pupils increased and services from Tygerberg Hospital were reduced.

In 1988 the Carel du Toit Trust Fund was founded by a parent, Mr Koos van der Merwe. Mr Gene Louw, Administrator of the Cape, was the patron. Today, the Trust still lends financial support and generates funds for the Centre.

In 1990 the buildings of the Centre were extended, adding a school hall and more classrooms. By this time the Centre consisted of a kindergarten (for children of 2-5 years), pre-school and Parent Guidance Centre. In 2006 Grade 1-3 classes were added to the Centre.