Deaf Students Finally Get Opportunity To Train As Teachers At Morgan Zintec College In Harare

For the first time in Zimbabwe, deaf people are to train as teachers. The first deaf trainee teachers will be admitted to Morgan Zintec College in Harare this September.

NMB Bank is sponsoring the training of Trymore Manyuchi, Gwendolyn Goredema and Lydia Tutani, all of whom have been struggling to make a living due to the difficulties they have faced as deaf people in obtaining employment.

NMB agreed to sponsor them for the first year of their training, after being approached with a request to do so by Deaf Zimbabwe Trust, an organisation that promotes the empowerment of deaf and hard of hearing people.

Trymore Manyuchi became partially deaf after he sustained burns when he was in Grade One. Despite the hearing loss, he continued at the same school, with assistance from his elder brother, who dropped a grade lower in order to be in the same class as him and help him.

Learning in an ordinary school with other children without hearing difficulties was not easy but he persevered and went on to secondary school. After completing his O-Levels, he battled to obtain employment. Although he has some hearing, it is limited, making communication difficult. He obtained a part-time job as a builder but lost the job due to his difficulties in understanding some instructions because of his hearing difficulties.

He said going to Morgan Zintec College would make a huge difference to his life.

“Going to Morgan Zintec is a big opportunity for me,” he said.

Trymore lives with his parents in Mount Pleasant. His father is a gardener and his mother sells vegetables. Trymore communicates with hearing people by reading their lips and standing as close as possible to them in order to hear as much as he can.

Gwendolyn Goredema did not have it any easier than Trymore growing up. Like Trymore, Gwendolyn became deaf as a child after she fell ill in Grade Two. She too faced the challenge of learning with hearing children, at least in the early years of her primary education.

However, a few years into her primary education, her school in Dombotombo, in Marondera, established a class for deaf pupils. She was assigned a teacher who knew sign language.

She went to Emerald Hill School for the Deaf for her secondary education. She passed seven subjects at O-Level but did not manage to proceed to A-Level because of the limited opportunities.

She is married with two children. Her husband is also deaf. She worked in South Africa sewing for two years but, when she returned to Zimbabwe to be with her husband, she was unable to obtain employment. She has been earning a meagre living selling airtime on the street.

Gwendolyn said she was happy to have been selected for the training programme as it gave her an opportunity to not only better her life but to help deaf children.

“At school we had hearing teachers but I would have loved to have been taught by deaf teachers, as the hearing teachers were not very good in sign language,” she said.

“I am particularly sad because people my age and with the same passes as me have been able to go to college but for the deaf it is different. Training as a teacher will help me support my family as well as provide support to deaf children in schools who have no support at all,” she added.

If the deaf were allowed to go to college as she was about to, this would help them in terms of employment opportunities. At the moment, she said, only the government employed deaf people.

“When I am looking for employment, people ask me how they will talk to me if they were to give me a job,” she said.

Lydia Tutani, unlike Gwendolyn and Trymore, was born deaf. She attended Emerald Hill School for the Deaf, where she learnt alongside other deaf students. This meant she did not have the same challenges as those faced by deaf students who attend schools alongside students who are able to hear.

Lydia is also married. She was employed for six months making peanut butter in Budiriro, in Harare. However, she stopped after six months, as she was not being paid.

Lydia said she was happy to go to college and hoped that doing so would not only benefit her but help improve the situation of deaf people in Zimbabwe.

“I would like to help deaf children who do not have sign language support in schools,” she said.

She said it would be good for all children to learn sign language in schools, so that those who are deaf and those who can hear can communicate with each other.

“It would be better if everyone were able to sign,” she said.

Deaf Zimbabwe Trust executive director Barbra Nyangairi said that, while government had adopted an inclusive education policy, where children with disabilities or special needs learn alongside other children in schools, deaf children often just sat in class unable to hear what the teacher was saying. Without a teacher or an assistant who could use sign language, they could not be expected to understand what was being taught.

She said that only $20 000 had been allocated in the government’s education budget to special needs education for 307 000 children with disabilities.

“It’s very little. For deaf children to go to college they need sign language interpreters,” she said, adding that special needs education was expensive and resources needed to be allocated accordingly. If they were not, then deaf children would fail examinations and end up selling airtime or begging on the streets.

She said the Deaf Zimbabwe Trust was in the process of raising funds to provide sign language interpreters for the deaf students at Morgan Zintec. Because signing was tiring, about three interpreters would be required, as well as assistants to act as support staff.

To follow what a lecturer is saying, a deaf person needs to look at the lecturer or interpreter, which means that he or she may not be able to write notes, Ms Nyangairi pointed out.

Lecturers, who often like to walk about while teaching, need to stay in one place, so deaf students can look at them and follow what they are saying.

Ms Nyangairi said NMB Bank’s support for the students and its sponsorship of them would have an impact not only on the education of the students they were sponsoring but on the lives of those the student teachers would teach and on the wider community.

The student teachers could become role models. Parents of deaf children were often unwilling to spend money on educating their deaf children, as they could see no future for them, other than selling airtime, begging or remaining dependent on them.

She said the wider community needed to be educated to accept that deaf people could do many professional jobs. She said that in the United States there were deaf doctors, deaf nurses and deaf lawyers.

“We want to remove the mentality that a deaf child is a state child,” she said.

NMB Bank marketing manager Lindiwe Thebethebe told the students that NMB was happy to be able to assist them and play a role in enabling deaf people to train as teachers for the first time in Zimbabwe. By Agencies-

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