BY VICTORIA PRICE
A new textbook has been launched by Viva’s partner network CRANE in Uganda, which creates brand new learning opportunities for deaf primary school-aged students in Kampala, through the creative use of pictures, videos and sign language tools.
According to UNICEF, approximately 2.5 million children in Uganda live with some form of disability, and 22,500 have a hearing impairment.
Children with any disability in Uganda rarely start school at the same time as their peers, and those with hearing impairments who do enroll tend to have lower attendance and completion rates.
This can be attributed to an inability to work with mainstream learning materials such as textbooks and worksheets at the same rate as their peers. Forcing children with additional needs to attempt to learn in ways they are unable to, often results in self-exclusion from the classroom.
Deaf children growing up with limited to no support with communication or language inevitably struggle to keep up with what is happening around them.
Some academics are using these insights to push for a keener focus on the education of children with disabilities and for stronger advocacy at national and international levels for this group, whose needs have largely been ignored by mainstream development programmes.
It is into this context that CRANE, Viva’s partner network in Uganda, in co-operation with Kyambogo University, have developed a new textbook for deaf learners in lower primary.
‘Anna Goes to School’ was designed to increase availability of resources to support the literacy of deaf learners in Uganda, and ensure deaf children remain interested in learning.
Design ideas for this reading resource were gathered from pupils of two deaf schools in Kampala.
The first draft of the book was piloted in the same schools in summer 2017, and a final copy was then reviewed by staff at the Uganda National Curriculum Development Centre. The book was published and launched at Kyambogo University.
The launch was attended by over 100 people, including pupils from four deaf schools, the Commissioner of Basic Education from the Ministry of Education, the Chancellor of Kyambogo University, and the Head Teacher of Basisschool De Spruween Mechelen, a primary school in Belgium.
Students reading the resource are also able to use the additional DVD features which follow the book, including a video version of the story, as well as a demonstration of the story in sign language so pupils are able to learn and develop a language they can communicate effectively in.
The future holds endless possibilities for the development of the resource. Utilising their connections within the education system in Uganda, CRANE is hoping to distribute the reader to all schools for deaf children, particularly those who did not make it to the launch.
They also plan to train teachers from different regions about how to use it in order to effectively increase the reading abilities of deaf learners.
Upon the successful uptake of the book, the network is planning to develop further teaching and learning resources for deaf learners in upper classes, and therefore adapting the National Curriculum to further suit the needs of deaf learners.