Namibia: Adult Literacy programme for Deaf adults and Sign Language classes in Windhoek College of Education.

15.1.2009

15.01.2009

This month, an Adult Literacy program for Deaf adults will commence in Namibia, but the program is a part of a Sign Language Project carried out by ICEIDA and the Namibian Ministry of Education. Furthermore, it has been decided that ICEIDA will support the Windhoek College of Education (WCE) in their efforts to offer Namibian Sign Language as an elective course for their students. A lecturer has bee hired and she will commence her duties at the College later this month. “We’ve reached an important point in the Sign language project in the last few months,” says Davíð Bjarnason, Project Manager in Social Projects for ICEIDA in Namibia. He says that project objectives are mainly focused on the development of Namibian Sign Language and the education of the Deaf in the country. Now, several new project activities will commence, which have been in preparation during last year.  

Davíð says that in Namibia the majority of Deaf adults have had very limited access to education, in some instances they are even without a language leaving them isolated in society. “In this project activity, eight Deaf instructors will be trained to initiate and teach Adult Literacy and Sign Language classes according to the Namibian government’s Adult Literacy Programme, which will be adjusted to special needs and circumstances of the deaf. Most of the prospective literacy instructors have previously been trained as Sign Language instructors by an Icelandic trainer, Júlía Hreinsdóttir and have therefore acquired important foundations in Deaf education.  This initiative is clearly seen as contributing to Namibia´s Education for All policy as well as Vision 2030 objective to ensure that people living with disabilities are well integrated into the mainstream of the Namibian society

Sign Language as an elective course in Windhoek College of Education

According to Davíð, the next two years ICEIDA will also support the Windhoek College of Education (WCE) in their efforts to offer Namibian Sign Language as an elective course for their students. “It is clear that such an initiative can yield very positive results for Deaf children’s education in Namibia,” he says. “In the past, teachers have often had to start their teaching in classes for the Deaf without any prior knowledge of Sign Language or awareness of Deaf issues and culture. The WCE students can now specialize in NSL, interpretation, and Deaf culture and will thus be more capable to teach Deaf children. The support is for two years, and subsequently the WCE will overtake the duties of the project and continue with project activities. The majority of Deaf children in Namibia have had limited or no access to education, but in the coming years more schools will hopefully make provisions for the access of Deaf children, on the basis of an inclusive education policy in the country. At that time it is important that there will be teachers and interpreters readily available and fully qualified to teach Deaf children,” Davíð says. 

Finally, it is worth mentioning that ICEIDA will cooperate with and support a vocational training center, COSDEC in Rundu, a town in north-eastern Namibia, which can for the first time provide Deaf adults access to vocational training. According to Davíð, this is a pilot initiative and hopefully the support can be implemented in other towns where COSDEC operates training centers.