Position paper on the situation of Deaf children in Zimbabwe schools

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The term Deaf in this paper refers to all people who are Deaf and hard of hearing. Deaf education has been problematic in Zimbabwe since independence and the government of Zimbabwe acknowledged this through the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Education conducted by Dr Nziramasanga in 1999. 90 per cent of Deaf children are born to hearing parents inhibiting language acquisition. Deaf people are further disadvantaged as the window of language acquisition between 21 months to 36 months usually passes without a proper and correct diagnosis of the hearing abilities of the child. As a result of the cultural inclinations of most parents and societal views of disability there is denial of Deafness and other remedies are sought which further delay the ability of the child to be taught sign language.

There are different categories of Deaf people and these face different challenges in education. Children born Deaf and children who become Deaf before acquiring language have major problems in learning English which is the medium of instruction in schools. In most cases Deaf people who become deaf after acquiring language are able to learn English better and can lip read. This makes it important to understand the conditions of Deafness and how that affects the ability to learn and acquire knowledge.

An assessment of the ZIMSEC results for Grade 7 and O level show that the educational outcomes of Deaf children are poor and lower than their hearing counterparts. In 2014, only 10 per cent of the candidates who are Deaf who sat for Grade 7 examinations passed. There is no disaggregation by disability for secondary school hence comparisons are difficult. This failure is mainly attributed to the lack of sign language in the classroom.

About DZT

Deaf Zimbabwe Trust was formed and registered as a trust in 2012 and began operations in 2013. Initially the organisation was formed to advance the rights of Deaf children.

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