The Namibian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD) held a five-day training course on HIV and AIDS and gender-based violence (GBV) for deaf children in the Ohangwena Region last week.
According to NNAD director Paul Nanyeni: “Deaf youth, especially those in the rural areas, are suffering in silence due to lack of resources and knowledge where to access the resources. Many are left behind in quality education due to lack of assistive materials and skilled teachers.
“They don’t have access to information, as there are no sign-language materials and they are also excluded from the mainstream society in many instances due to the language barriers.”
Some participants narrated the ordeals they have to deal with without support from professional assistance, such as social workers and psychologists, to ease their plight.
Nanyeni, who is a teacher by profession, says he is not convinced that the country has achieved inclusive education and insists on the empowerment of the deaf.
“I challenge you to take one deaf learner and take her to a well performing school. They will tell you, ‘We are not ready for this type of learner.’ What inclusivity is there then?” he asked.
He says deaf learners need quality education through well-trained teachers who can deliver education in Namibian sign language.
“The inclusive norm is that the deaf should be assisted by sign language interpreters, but at the moment we do not have those interpreters who are capable to handle the increasing demand for their services.
“Deaf Education can be transformed by offering further training to existing teachers, equipping classes with modern equipment, such as fast internet, bigger screens, computers to make teaching and learning easier and connected,” Nanyeni adds.
He says with the financial help of Sanlam Namibia they were able to involve a larger number of deaf youth than initially expected.
“A gathering of 38 young deaf, including some younger mothers and hostel matrons and caregivers, learned the message through the beautiful Namibian sign language. We challenge other corporate entities to follow follow suit and use their social responsibility mandates to bring about change,” Nanyeni remarked.