Sign language should be taught in Malawi schools – Stakeholders

Stakeholders have called upon government to include sign language in teaching curriculum to benefit more people and reduce the problem of Special Needs Teachers especially in the area of hearing impairment facing the country,

The Malawi National Association of the Deaf (Manad) project coordinator, Juliana Mwase, in an interview said most of the deaf school going children are not in an environment where they can learn and be responsible citizens in the future owing to inadequate individuals having skills in sign languages.

“People with hearing impairments are not benefiting from the current education system as most of the schools in the country have no teachers who are expert in sign languages. This problem is increasing illiteracy levels amongst the people who are deaf.

Minister of Education, Fabiano:  Shortage pf special needs teachers

Minister of Education, Fabiano: Shortage pf special needs teachers

“We feel that the problem can be resolved once and for all by including sign language in primary, secondary and tertiary curriculum so that every individual can have access to the language. This will increase numbers of people with knowledge in sign language which in turn will improve communication at different levels,” she said.

Nsanje South West Member of Parliament, Dr. Joseph Chidanti Malunga, acknowledged the gap which is there as regards to hearing impairment children as regard to communication.

He said most of the children are dropping out of school because communication is a challenge when they are taught in class.

“It is our duty as government to find means of addressing the challenges these people are facing especially on education.

“Everyone can agree with me that education is a key to any success; therefore, if these people are not given equal opportunity as regards to education, then it is killing them,” Dr. Chidanti Malunga said.

He added: “It is my suggestion that the government specifically Ministry of Education, Science and Technology should come in with measures to address these challenges once and for all. Therefore, sign languages should be taught in schools as any other languages. This will improve the situation on the ground.

“As an MP, I will try to lobby colleagues to push for the introduction of sign languages at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.”

Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Dr. Emmanuel Fabiano, recognised the shortage of special needs trained teachers however could not comment much as he referred the reporter to special needs department in the ministry.

Chief Education Officer on Special Needs in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Peter Nsendema, said the initiative of coming up with a sign language curriculum is a good suggestion to address the shortage of special needs teachers especially in the area of hearing impairments.

“It is a good proposal and if implemented, I am sure that challenges facing the deaf will be over. This will ease communication challenges since even health workers, religious leaders just to mention a few will have knowledge on sign language and be able to communicate without problems.

“As also one way of addressing the shortage of sign language trained teachers, we are at an advanced stage developing a harmonized Malawian sign language dictionary. For your information, we have been using Zambian sign language,” said Nsendema.

Nsendema said the ministry would train all teachers in the country sign language once the dictionary is completed.

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