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The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education today held a fruitful and constructive engagement with the Deaf Federation of South Africa (Deafsa) on concerns regarding schools for the deaf.
The committee heard presentations from Deafsa, the Department of Basic Education (DBE), the council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training (Umalusi) and provincial departments of education.
Committee Chairperson Ms Nomalungelo Gina said it is a positive step to have all the parties in the same room to discuss this critical matter. “Inclusive education and special education lie very close to the heart of this committee. We therefore felt it prudent that all parties should be given an opportunity to engage in an attempt to ensure challenges are addressed effectively.”
Deafsa raised concerns about the lack of focus on early childhood development for deaf children, the implementation of sign language as an official academic language without the necessary learner teacher support material (LTSM) and the fact that the majority of educators who teach such learners do not understand South African Deaf Language. It also requested that teaching assistants who understand South African Sign Language should be given bursaries to become qualified teachers.
In response, the DBE said all LTSM was ordered by provinces and Deafsa is included in LTSM requirement requests. The DBE further assured the committee that it has been working with Deafsa and will continue to strengthen that relationship.
Ms Gina said today’s meeting was just the first of engagements the committee plans to ensure inclusive education for all South African learners. “We firmly believe that the doors of learning should be open to all. We will therefore continue to monitor the working relationship between the DBE and Deafsa. No learner should be left behind. Education is a societal matter, so we should all work together to ensure quality education for all our learners. This should become an annual event.”
Issued by Parliamentary Communication Services on behalf of The Chairperson of The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, Ms Nomalungelo Gina