File photo: 'Deaf learners in South Africa no longer need to feel like foreigners in their own land.'

Cape Town - Advocacy groups lobbying for the inclusion of South African Sign Language (SASL) in the education system have hailed the decision of deaf pupils to be taught and assessed in their own language.

The Quality Council for General and Further Education and Training, Umalusi, released a report last week on its study on the inclusion of SASL in the curriculum as one of the examinable subjects for the National Senior Certificate. The aim of the study was to provide guidance to Umalusi in its role as the quality assurer for SASL-Home Language, with specific reference to school-based assessment and national examinations.

“Deaf learners in South Africa no longer need to feel like foreigners in their own land, at last they can exercise their rights to be taught and assessed in their own language. This may be a bigger step than many people realise, for in recognising SASL as a home language in our education system, the system is by implication recognising deaf culture as a fundamental part of South African culture,” said the council.

Chairperson of Umalusi Council, Prof John Volmink, said: “Today we can say to deaf learners that the system has fully embraced them, that their language is valued and respected, and that they now have the opportunity to learn and study and be tested through the medium of their home language.”

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Pan South African Language Board chief executive Dr Rakwena Monareng said: “This will give the students a platform to study in the language they understand. It allows them to express themselves in the way they know. It is offering them their human rights, which is part of the constitution.”

South African National Deaf Association chief executive Jabulane Blose said: “The deaf community of South Africa have placed their faith in us to vigorously campaign for the inclusive development of SASL that safeguards their language and culture and celebrates the importance of deaf culture as a community. SASL is not a communication option or a tool of inclusion for deaf people but a primary language of a part of the South African population.”

Cape Times