Special Needs Lecturers Call For Introduction Of Sign Language Lessons In Primary Schools.

Special needs lecturers have urged Malawi National Association of the Deaf MANAD to lobby for introduction of sign language lessons in primary schools.

Speaking during a symposium organized by MANAD at Catholic University, Joe Nkhula, a lecturer in the department of special needs, said sign language must be learnt in primary schools like English and Chichewa saying a child is best taught at a younger age.

Nkhula commended MANAD for deciding to introduce a sign language dictionary which will help university students to learn and understand better.

Concurring with Nkhula, Head of special needs department Jenipher Ngwira applauded MANAD for deciding to conduct the symposium at the university saying it has acted as an eye opener on the challenges the deaf community face in the country.

“Government to consider recruiting a lot of special needs teachers to help promote rights of children,” Ngwira said

In a separate interview, district education manager for Blantyre, Paul Chimphanda while admitting to the challenges special needs students face, said there is a long way to go to carter for education of the students.

Chimphanda said “Blantyre district which has over 170 schools has only 15 special needs teachers and 5 of them are for hearing impaired students.”

Responding to the request of asking government to introduce sign language lessons in primary schools, Executive director of MANAD Byson Chimenya, said “the organization has been engaging government on the issue but it is yet to give response.”

However, Chimenya said will continue doing so in order to promote rights of the Deaf students.

In a phone interview, director of special need in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology David Njaidi denied to have received a proposal from MANAD on the sign language lessons.

However, Njaidi said “government will continue training special needs teachers at Montfort College in Chiradzulu.”

Meanwhile, MANAD sign language research assistant Meria Khwalala says the process of coming up with a sign language dictionary is going on well although facing various challenges.

“Lack of knowledge by the deaf people on sign language, long distances and difficulties to identify the deaf people are some of the challenges,” said Khwalala

However, she was not certain on when the dictionary will be published saying they are still on the first edition which may take two to three years to complete.

The sign language dictionary project started in 2017 with financial aid from government of Finland.

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