Windhoek-Board secretary of the Namibian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD) Sylvia Bathlomeus wants the education system to incorporate the needs of the hearing impaired, as they often aspire to further their studies, but the system inhibits them.
Bathlomeus said most of the deaf end their education in Grade 10 and end up on the streets. She said there are a few deaf students though who make it to Grade 12.
“We want to go to vocational centres, but there aren’t [sign] interpreters,” she said while speaking at a workshop of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilites (UNCRPD) held for government officials.
The workshop’s objective was to look at issues related to the rights of persons with disabilities in order to promote equality for all persons.
Bathlomeus said people with hearing impairment, who complete Grade 10, may be eligible to study at a vocational centre to become a tailor or hairdresser, which would help such a person.
“But I am seeing deaf people out there are suffering. Some are done with Grade 10, with good points, but yet where are they going? They are wandering the streets and become thugs. We also need to come up with different careers when we talk of employment.
“A deaf person can also work in a government office – there is nothing wrong with that. We can also go study at different institutions,” she said.
At the workshop, people with disabilities spoke of the many challenges they face, such as being treated differently, especially when go shopping or to hospital or seek assistance in government institutions, including buildings that do not have ramps and are inaccessible to them.
Ben Shikolalye from the National Disability Council added that people use wrong terms, such as saying a person living with disabilities, instead of saying a person with disabilities.
He said they did not choose to have a particular disability. “Whatever disability they have is due to external factors and they didn’t choose to have that disability,” he remarked.
Deputy director of marginalised people and women in sport in the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service Jo-Ann Manuel said she has been at the ministry for the past eight years and people with disabilities are making the country proud.
She recalled that in 2012 from the London Paralympics Games Johanna Benson brought home a gold medal.
Following the sterling performsance of Benson, Ananias Shikongo brought a gold medal and two bronze medals from the 2016 Rio Paralympic games.
She added that Johannes Nambala came back with two silver medals from the Rio Games.
Further, she noted, that this year at the special Olympic participated in winter games for the first time the girls’ team ended in third place and brought home a bronze medal.
“When it comes to people with disabilities, we are proud of them, but when it comes to funding it is another issue in itself. But all in all – we have taken care of them,” Manuel said.