By Josiah Akwesi Demuyakor (University of Education, Winneba)
I write this article with great concern as a teacher and a special educator to be. And I wish to draw the attention of the general public, especially the Ghana Education Service to this serious plight of deaf students in the country.
First of all, how the deaf learn is slightly different from their hearing colleagues. In a mainstream school, a teacher could teach a topic in a day but in the schools for the deaf, a whole week or even weeks are dedicated to teaching the same topic. When this happens, the teacher of the deaf may not be able to cover all the topics in the syllabus before the school term or academic year ends. Unfortunately, these students will end up writing the same examination with their hearing colleagues.
Secondly, the use of Sign language. In Ghana, the mode of communication for the deaf is sign language. It is a known fact that every language has its own grammatical rules and syntax or sentence structure of which sign language is not an exception.Example: ENGLISH: Subject+Verb+Object order Sign LANGUAGE: Time +Object+Subject+Verb + Question Now knowing, this let’s consider the following sentence. ENGLISH: I went to school yesterday. SIGN LANGUAGE: Yesterday School I go.You are probably wondering what kind of grammatical construction this is. Now if you were a teacher and your student writes this kind of English(Yesterday School I go), will you mark him/her correct? I know the answer will be no, but that is how sign language is communicated.
It must also be noted that sign, as a language, lacks most of the vocabulary found in the English language. In this case, certain words need to be explained or finger spelt to the deaf student since it has no sign. And yet, the deaf student is expected to write the same English paper as his hearing colleagues, which are marked by teachers with no sign language background.
My suggestion, therefore, is questions set for deaf students should be modified; that is, breaking down the English vocabulary to the simplest form but having the same meaning.
I also wish to suggest that examination papers of deaf students should be given to special teachers to mark. Again, some questions need to be changed for the deaf.
I will be coming up with more of such challenges in the education of the deaf in my subsequent write-ups. Until then, God bless our homeland Ghana and make her great and strong.