The Malawi Council for the Handicapped (Macoha) has said access to quality education for children with hearing impairments in the country remains a farfetched dream as most caregivers in early child development(ECD) centres have no knowledge of sign language.
Macoha Project Coordinator for Sign Language Training for Caregivers and Teachers, Elvis Katete, said this in Mangochi on Friday at the end of a three-day training session for caregivers and teachers drawn from ECD centres district.
Katete observed that most children with disabilities have challenges to attend preschool as caregivers do not have skills to assist them, thereby denying them a chance to attain education while at a tender age.
“Most of the caregivers, even teachers, are not trained how they can assist or teach on children with disabilities and children are just left unattended to when they register in the ECDs. This is a challenge that needs to be addressed as these children will not be able to perform in the upper classes like their counterparts who went through ECDs”.
But he indicated that Macoha is working hard to reduce the burden through the project, about 40 caregivers and teachers have been equipped with the basic skills of sign language.
The training, which is covering the Alphabet and its use, finger spelling, reading among others, is being funded by Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa with the aim of promoting access to quality education and comprehensive early child development and education for children with disabilities below the age of eight years.
One of the key components in the project, which is being piloted in Mangochi, Kasungu and Mzimba, is to equip caregivers and teachers with sign language skills, which can help them reduce challenges which children with disabilities face when learning in ECD centres.
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