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‘Sign language must be introduced in schools’

WHILE the country has taken a step ahead to introduce sign language at the University of Swaziland, there is a need to incorporate it into the school syllabus as well.
Senator Tom Mndzebele said he would speak to Minister of Education and Training Wilson Ntshangase to have sign language introduced in schools.
The senator said this during the official opening of the Southern African Regional Roundtable Meeting of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) at Esibayeni Lodge yesterday.
The workshop was sponsored by the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA) department of Language Right Fellow Programme. The programme has 10 member countries including Swaziland, Angola, Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique, among others.
The meeting discussed issues of interest for the deaf, including programmes and activities to ensure compliance with the World Federation of the Deaf protocol. Other issues that were brought to deliberations were the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as well as the Sign Language research.
Senator Mndzebele said everybody in the country should take it upon themselves to learn sign language.
He pointed out that the country would normally hold gatherings at chiefdom and tinkhundla levels, however, no sign language interpreter would be provided.
He observed that the language barrier started at the family level, where family members were not be able to communicate with a deaf child.   “There are a lot of problems encountered by deaf people in the country. Even when a deaf child is born, problems emerge as the parents cannot communicate with the child. It is painful to be part of a family and can’t communicate.
“The same thing happens when the child has to go to school. Teachers in local schools are not trained in sign language,” he said.
The senator also observed that deaf people also faced discrimination even when looking  for jobs. He said most employers would look at their disabilities instead of looking at their abilities.
 “Employers forget that deaf people also have needs and families just like hearing people,” he said.
OSISA Professor Lazarus Miti explained that the organisation was supporting the production of sign language dictionaries in different countries including Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and recently, Swaziland.
The process has just started in the country under the Humanities department at the University of Swaziland and is expected to be complete after three years.

Red Cross to award excelling pupils

The Baphalali Swaziland Red Cross will embark on a field visit this morning, which will see the awarding of outstanding OVC pupils in their academic performances within the seven schools supported by society and Celebration of the African Child.
This will mark the end of the Southern African Region OVC Working group meeting which started Wednesday at Happy Valley, Chairperson of the Red Cross Fundraising Committee Dr Thandiwe Dlamini revealed.
Dlamini represented Red Cross National President Bongani Dlamini during the official opening of the workshop.
 “I greatly value the work that has been done by government and other organisations in promoting the welfare of children in Swaziland.
“As an organisation, we have found it within our jurisdiction to support orphaned and vulnerable children through educational, medical, psychological, food and rehabilitation support,” she said.

Ex-volunteer launches scholarship fund for Malkerns schoolgirl

AN English volunteer who came to Swaziland in 2005 has launched a scholarship fund to help a girl from Malkerns Valley go to boarding school.
Georgina-Kate Adams spent a month volunteering with All Out Africa when she was 18.
 She has been sponsoring the primary education of  a young girl who was eight years-old when she met her. She returned for Easter to visit the young girl.
Adams took the girl, who is now 15 to an interview for boarding school. Remarkably, she was awarded a place at Sisekelo High School in Big Bend.
Adams has launched a fund-raising project called The Seed Africa to help pay the girl’s fees.
 She hopes to raise enough money to allow the young girl to fulfill her dream of  becoming a medical doctor.
Now 25-year-old and working as a journalist in the UK, Georgina-Kate has teamed up with Gone Rural boMake and the All Out Africa Foundation to promote the initiative in Swaziland. 
“Over the last seven years, it’s been a great privilege for me to offer sponsorship through the All Out Foundation.
“Now I want to take that one step further by helping the young girl to obtain some skills to make a positive impact in her community.
“Educating girls has an important role to play in economic growth and I hope that by giving her this opportunity, we can plant a seed to change the world,” she said.
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