[lg policy] Zimbabwe: Education Policy Sidelines Deaf Children

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Fri May 6 11:30:38 EDT 2016


Zimbabwe: Education Policy Sidelines Deaf Children

IT is a sunny Friday afternoon and Tawanda Matipedza is asked by his new
teacher why he transferred from Tafara 5 Primary School to Greendale School
of the Deaf.

Responding in sign language through an interpreter, he poured his heart
out: "My former teacher would force me to speak and she thought my silence
was caused by stubbornness and this made me uncomfortable. It was also
difficult for me to understand subjects such as English and Content because
the teachers could not explain the meanings of the words they used," he
said.

These are the sad realities that most deaf children experience when
accessing education in most schools.

This is due to the fact that government introduced a policy of inclusive
education centred on teaching all children under one roof despite different
abilities such as being slow, visually or hearing impaired.

Teachers are also expected to manage the children and effectively deliver
on their mandate despite these inhibiting challenges.

In addition, the country's Constitution recognises sign language as one of
the 16 accepted official languages, making it a constitutional right for
children to learn any of these languages.

Tawanda is, however, one of the few lucky deaf children in school.

Statistics compiled by the Deaf Zimbabwe Trust (DZT) show that Zimbabwe has
85 964 deaf children and over 90 percent of these children are not in
school.

In September 2013, Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Lazarus Dokora
said only 2 261 deaf children were receiving education in the country's 115
resource units and nine special schools in Zimbabwe's 10 provinces.

Barbara Nyangairi, DZT's executive director, expressed concern that only a
few deaf children were in school. She said those in school faced barriers
because most teachers did not understand sign language.

"Teacher training institutions do not offer training in sign language and
the few that offer training in the language do not impart concrete
understanding of the language to the teachers," she said.

Nyangairi also lamented the lack of deaf role models in society.

"As a result, most deaf people sell airtime, beg or are unemployed. Most
deaf Zimbabwean adults are excluded from tertiary educational opportunities
and professional employment. This has resulted in a self fulfilling
prophecy of self-defeat and marginalisation where the deaf feel that they
cannot do much with their lives which has, in fact, become a reality.
Besides this, there is a limited number of secondary schools for the deaf
in Zimbabwe as compared to primary schools. This is a factor which prompts
most deaf children to drop out of school after completing grade seven. The
few who make it to secondary school struggle to pass English Language and
are not recognised by employers and the government. I think something must
be done considering that sign language is now an official language," she
said.

Lincoln Hlatywayo, a professor in the Department of Disability Studies and
Special Needs Education at the Zimbabwe Open University, said more still
needs to be done to improve educational services for deaf children.

"There are many deaf children who are in classes where teachers cannot
communicate effectively with them. This is a great cause for concern," he
said.
Zimbabwe: Education Policy Sidelines Deaf Children
Tagged:

   - Education <http://allafrica.com/education/>
   - Governance <http://allafrica.com/governance/>
   - Human Rights <http://allafrica.com/humanrights/>
   - Southern Africa <http://allafrica.com/southernafrica/>
   - Zimbabwe <http://allafrica.com/zimbabwe/>


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IT is a sunny Friday afternoon and Tawanda Matipedza is asked by his new
teacher why he transferred from Tafara 5 Primary School to Greendale School
of the Deaf.

Responding in sign language through an interpreter, he poured his heart
out: "My former teacher would force me to speak and she thought my silence
was caused by stubbornness and this made me uncomfortable. It was also
difficult for me to understand subjects such as English and Content because
the teachers could not explain the meanings of the words they used," he
said.

These are the sad realities that most deaf children experience when
accessing education in most schools.

This is due to the fact that government introduced a policy of inclusive
education centred on teaching all children under one roof despite different
abilities such as being slow, visually or hearing impaired.

Teachers are also expected to manage the children and effectively deliver
on their mandate despite these inhibiting challenges.

In addition, the country's Constitution recognises sign language as one of
the 16 accepted official languages, making it a constitutional right for
children to learn any of these languages.

Tawanda is, however, one of the few lucky deaf children in school.

Statistics compiled by the Deaf Zimbabwe Trust (DZT) show that Zimbabwe has
85 964 deaf children and over 90 percent of these children are not in
school.

In September 2013, Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Lazarus Dokora
said only 2 261 deaf children were receiving education in the country's 115
resource units and nine special schools in Zimbabwe's 10 provinces.

Barbara Nyangairi, DZT's executive director, expressed concern that only a
few deaf children were in school. She said those in school faced barriers
because most teachers did not understand sign language.

"Teacher training institutions do not offer training in sign language and
the few that offer training in the language do not impart concrete
understanding of the language to the teachers," she said.

Nyangairi also lamented the lack of deaf role models in society.

"As a result, most deaf people sell airtime, beg or are unemployed. Most
deaf Zimbabwean adults are excluded from tertiary educational opportunities
and professional employment. This has resulted in a self fulfilling
prophecy of self-defeat and marginalisation where the deaf feel that they
cannot do much with their lives which has, in fact, become a reality.
Besides this, there is a limited number of secondary schools for the deaf
in Zimbabwe as compared to primary schools. This is a factor which prompts
most deaf children to drop out of school after completing grade seven. The
few who make it to secondary school struggle to pass English Language and
are not recognised by employers and the government. I think something must
be done considering that sign language is now an official language," she
said.

Lincoln Hlatywayo, a professor in the Department of Disability Studies and
Special Needs Education at the Zimbabwe Open University, said more still
needs to be done to improve educational services for deaf children.

"There are many deaf children who are in classes where teachers cannot
communicate effectively with them. This is a great cause for concern," he
said.


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