• November 29, 2022 5:16 pm

Minister proposes sign language in schools

Sep 26, 2022

By Solister Mogha

Deputy Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Agness Nkusa Nkhoma has emphasized on the need for sign language to be included in the education curriculum.
She made the proposal at Sakata community ground in Zomba on Sunday during the commemoration of International SignLanguage Week.
Nkhoma said since the adoption of sign language by the United Nations General Assembly in 2017, very little has been done to promote sign language thereby denying the deaf community the opportunity to be involved in various socio-economic activities.
“We take for granted our ability to interact with others in our own language, but significant barriers to communicate in sign language is depriving many deaf people of enjoying even these basic interactions and enjoyment of their human rights,” she said.
The Deputy Minister said since deaf people use sign language to communicate, learn, work and access essential services, it would be of important for Malawians to accept, facilitate and promote the use of sign language so that deaf people in the country enjoy their human rights.
“I would like to ask the Department of Disability andElderly to start exploring ways of institutionalizing a Malawi nationalsign language and to have it as a national language.
“Our Ministry will explore with the Ministry of Education on possibilities of introducing sign language in schools as one of the subjects,” Nkhoma said.
She described the commemoration as being crucial because it reaffirms the commitment that the internationalcommunity made to support and protect the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of all deaf people and other sign language users.
Boarch Chair for Malawi NationlAsoociationof theDeaf (MANAD), Stephano Maneya hailed government for the proposal, noting that if adopted would promote sign language and open opportunities to deaf people.
He said the deaf community faces many challenges and one of their biggest challenges was communication barrier.
“Due to communication barrier, the deaf even if well educated, cannot get employment. We applaud the Ministry for the proposal to include sign language in the education curriculum as this would broaden the space,” Maneya added.
He said inadequate sign language interpreters were one of the biggest challenges facing the country and that the inadequacy is affecting education progress of young children.
Maneya said MANAD has since introduced a sign language dictionary, which if ‘promoted and popularized would increase knowledge of sign language amongst Malawians.
Commissioner for the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), BonifaceMassah said the commission would always fight for rights of the minorities including the deaf.
He said people with the abilities must enjoy equalrights just like any other person and that these rights are supposed to be protected and respected by everyone.
This year’s sign language day commemoration was celebrated under the theme: “Sign language unites us.”

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