Dr. Gideon Kwesi Obosu, a Lecturer, University of Cape Coast, says Sign Language(SL) has been omitted from the curriculum of Ghana Education Service.
He said the absence of sign language in the curriculum increased the stigmatisation, marginalisation, and linguistic discrimination against deaf children.
This has compelled most schools for the deaf to resort to curriculum adaptation and personalised programmes to teach deaf children content that had no policy direction or regularisation, he added.
Dr. Obosu stated this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of the Ghana National Association of the Deaf’s (GNAD) national stakeholders’ meeting on inclusive education for deaf learners on the topic, “Strengthening access to quality inclusive education through Ghanaian sigh language.”
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They discussed inclusive education and ways of increasing access of deaf children to excellent education, as well as new strategies to bring the education of Ghanaian deaf children in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Various talks highlighted Ghana’s inclusive education for deaf children and increasing global trend of providing quality education to all school children, regardless of their disability, including deaf children.
Dr. Gideon said Ghana was having a number of problems with regards to implementing its inclusive education policy launched in 2015, as well as an outdated belief that deaf students merely needed to be placed in conventional classrooms with sign language interpreters.
“But that alone is not enough because the child who is deaf, education focus will have to be placed on language and appropriate environment, language accessibility is key,” Dr. Gideon said. “And in that case, I am talking about sign language accessibility which we don’t have.”
One unfortunate aspect is that, he noted, “sign language for Ghanaian deaf children is even missing in our curriculum…most schools for the deaf go through the same curriculum as in regular schools so the teacher has to do curriculum adaptation.”
He pointed out that excluding sign language from the regular curriculum meant that deafest children in Ghana would grow up with no sense of cultural pride.
In Ghana, he continued, people are educated about their native languages, which gives them a feeling of cultural pride and acknowledgment to language itself, whether Dagaare, Nzima, or Fante.
“However, we cannot communicate in the same way for deaf students since it is not part of the curriculum,” Dr. Gideon explained. “I hear that certain schools for the deaf have their own sign language curriculum, but it is not regularised, and there is no policy to that effect.”
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He emphasised the urgent need for a Ghanaian sign language policy to provide guidance in developing a curriculum for teaching sign language in schools and enabling deaf individuals to communicate just like any other person in order to contribute to social growth.
Ghana’s education curriculum was recently overhauled in response to the national objective of moving the structure and content of the education system from just passing tests to developing character, fostering values, and producing literate, confident, and involved citizens.
However, sign language is noticeably absent from the curriculum, prompting groups such as the GNAD to seek an official Ghanaian Sign Language policy.
Mr. Mathew Kubachua, President of the Ghana National Association of the Deaf, stated that such a step might harmonise deaf education in Ghana and lessen language prejudice against deaf children.
Already, he stated that 80% of deaf children are not in school, and many deaf parents live in abject poverty, in addition to confronting systemic hurdles such as stigma associated with hearing loss, parents’ wish to have their own children near to them, and ignorance.
He urged Ghana’s inclusive education policy to be properly implemented since it had the ability to transform school access for deaf students and improve learning outcomes.