SA Sign Language added to curriculum
Cape Town - South African Sign Language will be introduced as a subject to pupils in Grades R to 3, and Grade 9 from next year.
The Department of Basic Education recently announced that teacher training had already started and the plan was to have the curriculum introduced across grades by 2018.
The plan follows on the success of a three-year pilot programme launched in the Western Cape in 2011.
Minna Steyn, co-ordinator of the pilot project, previously told the Cape Argus that before the project was launched, deaf children were taught in the language of instruction at their school - for example, English or Afrikaans - combined with signs, but were not offered sign language as a mother tongue.
Steyn said teachers had previously struggled to teach their pupils about certain topics because there were no signs for certain words.
Five schools in the province - De la Bat School in Worcester, Nuwe Hoop School in Worcester, Dominican School for the Deaf: Wittebome in Wynberg, Mary Kihn School in Observatory and Noluthando School in Khayelitsha - participated in the pilot and would expand on it next year.
Elijah Mhlanga, spokesman for the Department of Basic Education, said it was envisaged that the implementation of the curriculum would bring about “effective participation of deaf learners in teaching and learning, their improved retention in the schooling system and improved learning outcomes which will allow them entry into higher education institutions against which they have been marginalised in the past”.
Bruno Druchen, national director of the Deaf Federation of SA (DeafSA), said that while it applauded the department for its efforts in implementing SA Sign Language as a subject in the foundation phase and Grade 9, there were some concerns.
He cautioned that the department should avoid changing signs and said deaf teaching assistants needed to be employed and trained to be qualified, as they were better equipped to teach the language and were first language users.
Druchen said the Department should have consulted DeafSA on the training provided for teachers at the recent South African sign language curriculum and assessment policy statements training.