The Community Centres for the Deaf (CCDs) is still awaiting a response from the Namibia Qualification Authority (NQA) after they approached the latter seeking the accreditation of its courses.
Divisional Head for the Community Centres for the Deaf (CCDs) division, at the Ministry of Education (MoE) Lizony Kahikuata, said that they have strengthened Namibian Sign Language (NSL) and developed a syllabus for grades 1 to 12 for NSL which is an examinable subject.
Kahikuata told The Villager that they are looking into continuing with the on-going projects and support to various stakeholders. It is further pushing towards the establishment of an Interpreter’s Association in Namibia.
Her sentiments were corroborated by the head of the centre Lizette Beukes added that the centre has availed the community and stakeholders with sign language classes; the gesture was met with apathy as it was difficult to motivate parents and teachers to attend these classes. This course runs over a period of three months and it is meant to help parents communicate with their children.
“Namibian Sign Language (NSL) is unified course that was developed by deaf people in Namibia. There is however similarities in the signs they use, as such they can also communicate with fellow deaf people from other countries,” said Beukes.
However there has been difficulty in finding trained sign language interpreters and employing them and with those that are already trained and employed, there has been a confusion of roles between those that are employed as teachers and those that are employed in the role of interpreters. To this, The Villager was told, the CCDs has advised that training should be centred on only one job for a continued professional development.
“Trained teachers can choose to teach any subject. They can also choose to teach sign language or become interpreters,” Kahikuata stressed adding that the centre also offers literacy and computer training for deaf adults,” said Kahikuata.
Kahikuata told The Villager that despite the CCDs having established a resource centre for the deaf, in Khomasdal, which offers support whilst providing interpreting services to its employees, the centre has since struggled to get an adequate number of human resources.
“Appointing of staff is a financial budgetary issue with its own implications; it is however the specialty that is needed. A lot of Namibians are not trained for this type of work,” said Kahikuata.
In an attempt to mainstream the activities deaf people in Namibia while raising awareness of their special needs, the centre launched a theatre group in collaboration with the Bank Windhoek Theatre School. The initiative, again, is hampered by human resource constraints.
“This has led to revising the group once more and seeking sponsorship and opportunities to perform but we cannot say this has come to an end, it is only put on hold until everything has been resolved, ”the head of department at CCDs Lizette Beukes.
Ironically though, while a Curriculum Framework for Inclusive Education (CFIE) has been approved and implemented by some public schools, it is yet to be implemented at schools and units for the deaf, due to the need for funds and effective lobbying.
Beukes acknowledged that, currently deaf people in Namibia have a substandard level of education although they can pursue careers in the ministry and private sector; she added that the centre lobbies for them to get jobs such as graphic designing, chefs and cleaning – mostly through On-The-Job training.
“Employing deaf people has its implications therefore we go with them to the interviews, we prepare their CV’s and we go with them for the induction process. We have established a network for employment through the Namibia Employers’ Federation (NEF) and the private business sector,” she said.