New deal for the deaf

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Na­dine Wil­son-Har­ris Staff Re­porter na­dine.wil­son@glean­erjm.com

MORE THAN 90 per cent of deaf stu­dents in Ja­maica are per­form­ing be­low their ex­pected aca­demic level, but that is ex­pected to change with the re­cent launch of a lit­er­acy-en­hance­ment pro­ject for the deaf.

State min­is­ter in the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, Youth and In­for­ma­tion, Floyd Green, in al­lud­ing to his min­istry’s slo­gan, “Ev­ery child can learn, ev­ery child must learn”, ad­mit­ted that while mem­bers of the deaf com­mu­nity have been short-changed, the min­istry is al­ways look­ing at ways to strengthen the re­sources pro­vided to those with spe­cial needs.

“The truth is, the com­mu­nity has been un­der­served, and the only way we can treat with that is by first ac­knowl­edg­ing it and then tak­ing steps to ad­dress it,” said Green.

“We have pro­gressed well in some ar­eas, but there are other ar­eas in which we have not done so well. We have to quickly catch up in those ar­eas, and I think that this gives us a sig­nif­i­cant push­start in re­la­tion to catch­ing up on lost ground in re­la­tion to treat­ing our hearingim­paired com­mu­nity,” added Green.

Chair­man of the Ja­maica As­so­ci­a­tion for the Deaf (JAD), Christo­pher Williams, lamented the fact that the deaf com­mu­nity has not been given an equal op­por­tu­nity to learn and de­velop.

“The able-bod­ied com­mu­nity has re­ceived the lion’s share of the de­vel­op­ment cap­i­tal in the coun­try and we are sim­ply ask­ing for us to be given our fair share, and with it, we are con­fi­dent that we will be able to de­liver,” said Williams.

“The fight that we are on is a fight to fish. As you know, you give a man a fish, he lives for a day; you teach a man to fish, he lives for a life­time, and what we want is to learn to fish.

“We the deaf com­mu­nity are not here beg­ging any hand­outs, we want to be given the tools so that we can per­form

USAID to the res­cue with lit­er­acy-en­hance­ment pro­gramme

and we can par­tic­i­pate in the growth and de­vel­op­ment of our county,” added

Williams, as he ex­pressed plea­sure over the fi­nan­cial and tech­ni­cal sup­port that

the USAID has pledged to en­sure that the Part­ner­ship for Lit­er­acy En­hance­ment for the Deaf Pro­ject is a suc­cess.

The three-year pro­ject will tar­get ap­prox­i­mately 100 ed­u­ca­tors of the deaf and 400 stu­dents from nine par­tic­i­pat­ing schools, along with their fam­i­lies.

The ob­jec­tives of the pro­ject in­clude in­creas­ing the num­ber of deaf stu­dents func­tion­ing at age-ap­pro­pri­ate lev­els for lit­er­acy by at least 10 per cent, as well as es­tab­lish the Ja­maican Sign Lan­guage as a cur­ricu­lum sub­ject in schools for the deaf by 2020.

Pro­ject man­ager, Tisha Ewen-Smith, noted that the sup­port from par­ents of deaf chil­dren is of­ten­times ei­ther min­i­mal or to­tally ab­sent. As such, the pro­ject also aims to em­power par­ents of the deaf to ef­fec­tively com­mu­ni­cate with them.

Added to this, she has found that “teach­ers with even the best of in­ten­tions strug­gle to be able to use Ja­maican Sign Lan­guage as a tool of in­struc­tion to make the teach­ing and learn­ing process an ef­fec­tive one”.

This has re­sulted in poor se­condary in­te­gra­tion into so­ci­ety with a high pre­dic­tion for a low stan­dard of liv­ing for the deaf into their adult lives.

Act­ing mis­sion di­rec­tor for USAID, Re­becca Robinson, ex­pects that the pro­ject will help deaf chil­dren to be well-rounded and will build a strong foun­da­tion for lit­er­acy and aca­demic suc­cess.

“There is ev­i­dence to sug­gest that the deaf has been an un­der­served pop­u­la­tion with lim­ited ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties which do not ad­e­quately cater to the unique needs of this com­mu­nity,” said Robinson, as she noted that ed­u­ca­tional pro­grammes are the key to eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

IAN ALLEN/PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

An­dré Wit­ter (right) from the Ja­maica As­so­ci­a­tion for the Deaf gives a demon­stra­tion in sign lan­guage dur­ing the of­fi­cial launch of the USAID/JAD Part­ner­ship for Lit­er­acy En­hance­ment for the Deaf Pro­ject. Look­ing on are from (se­cond right) Floyd Green, min­is­ter of state in the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, Youth and In­for­ma­tion; Re­becca Robinson, act­ing mis­sion di­rec­tor, United States Agency for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment; and Christo­pher Williams, chair­man and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the JAD board.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Jamaica

© PressReader. All rights reserved.