Obtaining an education in a poverty stricken country is hard for most children living in those conditions. It’s almost impossible when that child is deaf and has no access to sign language assisted learning. Millions of children are struggling to learn or not attending school at all because of this fact.
In countries like Nepal, Kenya, China and Northern Uganda, parents, teachers and the wider community often see deaf children as mentally impaired or just altogether incapable of learning. So while these children may be lucky enough to obtain cochlear implants or hearing aids, they are forced to miss out on important learning milestones.
Kenyan Natha Yare recalls being denied her right to an education growing up because she was deaf. Natha talks about how her quality of education was compromised even though she was able to attend a school for the deaf, which was a 15 hour trip by bus.
The teachers there did not know Kenyan Sign Language. They simply wrote on the board, expecting the children to copy down what they saw, which they did. The children were then allowed to play, never actually gaining an understanding of what had been copied.
USAID is dedicated to changing the way deaf children in poverty are treated in many countries worldwide. Many poverty stricken countries simply do not have the funds or even the resources to provide sign language teachers or aids.
USAID has helped to promote the implementation of sign language projects in several countries including Ecuador, Georgia and Morocco.
It is important for deaf children to learn sign language in order to allow them the opportunity to be able to express themselves, communicate and learn. In order to ensure this, teachers who are qualified to teach national sign language, and at all educational levels, must be hired.
Deaf children who never learn sign language are highly likely to develop into adults who have a hard time communicating with family, friends and the larger community. This will make it very hard for them to achieve true independence and to lead fulfilling, successful lives.
Every child deserves to have access to a proper education and “the right to education in sign language for deaf people is safeguarded by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities”.
By safeguarding this right, especially for those children living in extreme poverty, we give each deaf child the opportunity to reach their full potential and break the cycle of poverty.
– Drusilla Gibbs