Deaf Education Needs Upgrading

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK A large group of learners with special needs in Namibian schools were not fully included in mainstream education, neither was specific attention given to their educational needs. So said the Deputy Minister of Education, Dr Becky Ndjoze-Ojo, on Wednesday at the closing of a three-day workshop on deaf education in the capital. Teachers and experts in the field from around the country and neighbouring countries attended the workshop. “This is attributed to various factors such as lack of trained human resources, lack of physical facilities, even the application of teaching methodologies. Furthermore, the use of pure Namibian sign language as a mode of instruction is a challenge. Very often the mode of instruction applied is English sign language, which is contradictory to research findings that a child should master a mother tongue first for easy acquisition of a second language,” Ndjoze-Ojo said. She emphasized that a strong foundation in Namibian sign language is a necessity. “However, there is a need to link Namibian sign language to written English for communication, teaching and learning purposes for oneself and the hearing world. In view of that, I accept the recommendations from this workshop on behalf of the Ministry of Education,” she said. Experts in the field of sign language education from South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Europe and Iceland attended the workshop. “To implement all the recommendations and suggestions on deaf education, it would be important to continuously consult, coordinate and collaborate for success in Deaf education in Namibia and the global community at large,” she urged. The workshop specifically focused on the importance of early childhood education for hearing-impaired children, sign language development among pre-school hearing-impaired learners and bilingual teaching and syllabi development.