Published On: Mon, Dec 19th, 2016

Deaf students pass rate still low-DZT

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Simon Munyoro

HARARE-The Deaf Zimbabwe Trust has expressed dismay over the poor results being attained by the deaf students and the children living with disabilitaies.

The DZT has made the remarks following statistical analysis of results published by Higher Life foundation which states that students who use braille obtained a pass rate of 80 percent while those who are hard of hearing attained 31,76 percent.

Against this background, DZT executive director, Barbara Nyangairi has described the results as worrisome and glaring. She said that there is need to understand the poor outcomes in order to improve and create a more equal and inclusive learning environments for students that lead to better outcomes.

“We believe that access to educational content is the reason for the disparities in the grade 7 outcomes between the students with visual impairments and the deaf students. Learners who are deaf are born to hearing parents and lack a strong foundation in language. In addition, they are language delayed. When they go to school, in most cases they are not taught in sign language.

“They do not develop the necessary language skills that enable comprehension and understanding of what is taught. The brain drain has robbed the nation of qualified teachers who can use sign language. Sign language remains undeveloped, undescribed and incomplete with so many words that do not have signs. Many learners who are deaf go to school and get frustrated as they cannot understand what the teachers is saying, effective communication does not take place and therefore learning does not take place,” she said.

Nyangairi said that students with visual impairments are able to engage with the teacher and understand the proceedings in the classroom and learning takes place. She said that such a development  means that  they are in a better position to have better grades and could explain the progress that the visual impaired people have made in access to higher education and their ability to enter many professions where vision is not an issue.

In order to curb the challenges faced by deaf learners she said that there is not a one size fits all solution to the issue.

“We need to be more intentional with ensuring that deaf students have equal access to language and educational content as well as role models. Language development could be strengthened through working with Deaf adults who are role models to engage with families and teach them language. Parents need to be supported to value and create accepting environments in the family for the child to have greater well-being and a great sense of self-worth,” she said.