Department opposes sign language at schools

Time of article published Jul 16, 2009

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The Department of Education will oppose a court application by a deaf KwaZulu-Natal matric pupil who wants sign language declared an official language at schools, the Pietermaritzburg High Court heard on Thursday.

Westville Boys High school pupil Kyle Springate has taken the Department of Education to court in an attempt to have sign language made official in schools. With the help of the Legal Resource Centre, Kyle filed his papers in June.

The matter was adjourned on Thursday to August 19.

The department's legal team told the court it would oppose Kyle's application. The department was expected to file its own papers on Thursday after it failed to meet the July 5 deadline.

The courtroom was filled with members of the KwaZulu-Natal Blind and Deaf Society, Kyle's classmates, and family friends.

"We as the KwaZulu-Natal Blind and Deaf Society fully support Kyle Springate in his attempts to have sign language declared an official language in schools," said the society's CEO, Jace Nair.

Earlier deaf and blind people picketed outside the court in support of Kyle, who was accompanied by his two brothers and his parents.

Nair said he was happy that the boy had decided to take the matter to court.

"Our organisation has been lobbying for the sign language to be declared an official language in schools for a long time now. We have had meetings with the department but nothing materialised," he said. - Sapa

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