* It emphasizes the importance of improving education and bringing change to the rights of deaf people
* And make Malawi a discrimination-free nation for citizens living with disabilities
Victor Singano Jr
The country’s state broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and Malawi National Association of the Deaf (MANAD), have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) partnership whose main objective is to promote quality sign language education for children with deaf challenges in Malawi through airing of television programs.
The two parties signed the agreement on Monday in Blantyre at MBC headquarters at Chichiri in Blantyre where they emphasized on the importance of improving education and bringing change to the rights of deaf people in the country and make Malawi a discrimination-free nation for citizens living with disabilities.
MBC Director General, George Kasakula said as state broadcaster, they are always committed in making sure that they take part in all angles that can help to develop the country, as such they thought it wise to partner MANAD with the aim of bridging the communication gap among hearing-impaired children by ensuring that they have access to quality education.
Kasakula emphasized that no one should be left behind and disclosed that they are planning to introduce sign language interpreters in every television programs, saying their main target is to be on the forefront in as far as issues to with inclusivity is concerned.
“Currently, our [sign language] productions are limited to news bulletins and state events but our ambition is to have sign language interpreters in all the programs so that we can reach out to everyone.”
He added that they are set to promote sign language education and through that it is likely that they will produce skilful interpreters who can also be recruited in their productions, saying: “I can assure the public that this partnership will be beneficial and we’ll try to sustain the program.”
Executive Director for MANAD, Byson Chimenya described the partnership as crucial, saying it is one of the fundamental pillars that will significantly change the standard of education among deaf children through empowering them and promoting conducive learning environment to every children.
“We have been facing a number of challenges on the ground in the deaf education such as inadequate knowledgeable teachers but now we are assured that the signing of the partnership will bridge those gaps because,” he said, adding that both children and the teachers will have access to television programs that will be produced to gain more knowledge.
MANAD is a non-profit making association of the deaf with more than 12,000 members out of 400,000 deaf and hard of hearing members across the country.
MANAD was formed in 1992 and was registered under the Trustee Incorporation Act of Malawi on January 4, 1996 and its formation was necessitated to cater for the welfare and the interest of the deaf within the boundaries of Malawi.
The association is affiliated to the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and the Federation of Disability Organizations (FEDOMA) and some of its core objectives are to develop indigenous Malawi sign language based on the cultural aspects and means of communications among the deaf people in the country.
It also serves as an advocate of the deaf, and study and implement policies having direct impact on the welfare and interests of the deaf people.
MANAD exists to empower deaf people to improve their own lives through promotion of sign language, attainment of their full rights and respect in society they live in and to build the capacity of the deaf and their branches and to stimulate collaborative ventures between organisations working towards deaf issues.
We are a dedicated and transparent membership organisation that uses the insights obtained through our being deaf to inspire and to mobilise deaf people to advocate and lobby for improved services, participation and inclusion in a day to day social life.
It’s Vision is: A society in which deaf people enjoy the highest quality of life.
In August this year, MANAD trained special needs education (SNE) teachers from all the six schools for the deaf in universal design learning (UDL) and Malawi Sign Language (MSL) in an effort to promote inclusive education in the country.
The organization also distributed MSL books to the teachers on the sidelines of the training, which was financially supported by All Children Reading (ACR).
The training, which took place at Linde Hotel at Mponela, was aimed at equipping teachers with skills on how they can apply UDL methodologies and utilize MSL books to promote equity in education provision.
Executive Director Chimenya said at the training that various studies have shown that inclusive learning benefits all students in the classroom by providing thoughtful, personalized instruction and promoting individuality and equity — hence, their decision to equip teachers with such skills.
Chimenya stressed that his organization recognizes the need to establish a successful integrated learning environment is a complex task involving teachers, administrators, and families, saying: “We noted that there many gaps in the provision of education, with deaf children facing many challenges to access education.
“That’s why we decided to come with this initiative to complement government efforts to address those gaps,” he said, stressing that special education teachers have the essential role of ensuring that students with disabilities or special needs receive a quality education.
And in July, MANAD successfully conducted the first ever National Spelling Bee Competition targeting learners with hearing impairments, which is one of the activities the association is implementing under the ACR initiative through its sign language in action prize whose project is titled ‘Promoting Accessible Malawian Sign Language Books’.
The major objective of the project is to improve deaf learners’ literacy prowess and the first-ever spelling bee competition, which took place at Embangweni in Mzimba, drew contestants from six schools — Mua, Maryview, Embangweni, Bandawe, Mountview and Karonga Schools for the Deaf, with each school sending three learners, translating into 18 learners who were from Standard 2 to 4.
It was organized with basket funding support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), World Vision International, Australian government and technical support from eKitabu and Malawi National Spelling Bee in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Science & Technology through the Directorate of Special Need Education.