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MPs Want Sign Language Made Compulsory In Schools

Most schools don’t use sign language

A section of legislators have asked the Ministry of Education and Sports to include teaching of sign language in all education institutions so as to end the discrimination of people with hearing loss or impairment face when seeking for services in the country.

The call was made by Godfrey Onzima (Aringa North) while reacting to the Statement issued by Hellen Asamo (Minister of State for Disability) ahead of the International Deaf Awareness Week that is slated to be held between 19th to 23rd September 2022, and later main celebrations held at Iganga Municipal Primary School.

Minister Asamo said that the Ministry of Education and Sports has embarked on the process of translating learning materials into Uganda Sign Language, in a project being funded by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

She said, “The Ministry of Education and Sports need to prioritize translation of more educational materials for meaningful inclusion of deaf children in schools across the country. The recognition of Uganda Sign Language as an official language in the Constitution of Uganda is important for the inclusion of deaf people in implementing SDG Agenda of leaving no one behind.”

Onzima cited a scenario he witnessed at a certain police station where a person with a hearing loss came to report a case but there was no sign language interpreter to help the victim communicate with the police and ended up not being helped, saying such a situation could have been averted if sign language had been taught in most schools.

“We can never talk about this issue of inclusiveness if these people are left out in terms of communication. Government should adopt this presentation as a strategy in the review of the education curriculum. Recently, there has been a review of the education curriculum, so sign language must be adopted as a comprehensive pattern in the curriculum,” said Onzima.

Olympic medalist Julius Acon (Otuke North) asked Government to ensure that the deaf are represented in sports, and ensure that schools for the deaf are established in all districts, citing a scenario in Lango region that only has a school in Lira, forcing students from Otuke which is 72Km away.

The sentiments were echoed by Brenda Nabukenya (Luwero DWR) who said, “We still have so many districts without schools for the disabled, that means accessibility can’t be speak of being inclusive if we don’t avail schools to people who lack hearing, so that children don’t talk of inclusiveness.”

The Minister replied saying, “We are trying to get schools like the seed schools to have a classroom aside so that you learn because we are talking of inclusion.”

Minister Asamo also said the deaf people are very good sports people they play football, volley ball and asked MPs to be inclusive when making choices in marriage and not sideline the deaf, “I think you have seen me talk about the beauty pageant and some of these girls are going to shine and usually the deaf girls are very beautiful, I want to encourage MPs to be inclusive enough.”

According to the 2014 Uganda National Housing and Population Survey, there were over 1,083,649 deaf people in Uganda, but from 2014, the number has increased to 1,290,000 of the population.

Uganda only has 11 schools that focus solely on provision of education to deaf students and of these, six are public, while 5 and these schools are further complemented by 45 deaf units which are attached to mainstream primary schools.

In 2012, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released new estimates on the magnitude of disabling hearing loss that estimates that there are 360 million persons in the world with disabling hearing loss, and of these, 328 million are adults (183 million males, 145 million females) while 32 million are children. Sub Saharan Africa, a region Uganda falls has 6.8million deaf children and 17million adults.

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