Sign Language Education and Development

SLED PRESS STATEMENT 19.08.2014


Press Statement – 19.08.2014

SLED would like to applaud the Department of Basic Education (DBE) for providing Deaf pupils in SA the opportunity to study their first language, South African Sign Language (SASL). The curriculum assessment policy statements (CAPS) for SASL GrR – Gr12 have recently been approved by the Minister of Basic Education, Hon. Angie Motshekga.

According to the DBE the plan is to initially roll out the SASL CAPS in 2015 in the Foundation Phase and bridging Grade 9 at the schools for the Deaf in South Africa. This is very exciting, but it does come with many challenges. Ideally first language users would be the best people to teach the subject. However, there are very few qualified Deaf teachers in South Africa. Sadly it may take some years of improving education opportunities before we have enough Deaf SASL teachers.

Up to now Deaf pupils have not been able to study the language at school. Most Deaf adults learned SASL from older pupils at school, and adults in the community. However, while they are fluent in SASL, few have had the chance to study the language in terms of grammar, literature and all other aspects of language.

In addition, two further important challenges lie ahead. 1) The present generation of teachers of Deaf children need ongoing in-depth training in SASL as the language of learning and teaching (LOLT), as well as in teaching SASL as a subject. 2) There is a need to provide appropriate, sufficient professional learning and teaching support materials (LTSMs) for the subject. There is currently a national LTSM audit underway for the SASL curriculum requirements.

We look forward to seeing Deaf children becoming literate in both SASL and written English. With their knowledge of SASL they will now be able to learn English, their first written language from good linguistic foundations

Abram Moyaha (Deaf facilitator) and Deaf children

(Photo, delight as SLED facilitator and artist Abram Moyaha interacts with Deaf children)

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