Calls for sign language curriculum grow

HARARE - Zimbabwe's deaf community has called for a sign language curriculum.

While the Primary and Secondary Education ministry in its new curriculum has made the syllabi for Shona, Ndebele, Tonga, Tshivenda, Kalanga, Nambya, Sesotho and Shangani to mention a few, the new programme of study is conspicuously silent on the indigenous language of the deaf community.

Sign language is a visual means of communicating using gestures, facial expression, and body language. Sign language is used mainly by people who are deaf or have hearing impairments.

The shape, movement, and location of the hands, facial expressions and body are used to communicate with one another.

“We remain worried that a sign language syllabus is yet to be made,” Barbra Nyangairi of the Deaf Zimbabwe Trust said.

“Deaf children’s rights to language continue to be violated every day. They learn in settings that do not promote the use of their language. Language is empowering and the development of a sign language syllabus will provide motivation for the development of learning resources.”

The remarks were made ahead of the February 21 Mother Tongue Day being held under the theme “Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education”.

Nyangairi said for a long time, the deaf community in Zimbabwe has suffered the violation of language rights.

Zimbabwe’s new Constitution, overwhelmingly adopted in 2013, recognises sign language as one of the 16 official languages, but not a lot is being done to promote its use and development.

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