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Creating an inclusive society for the deaf in SI

Creating an inclusive society for the deaf in SI

 

Since May 2022, the Iumi Tugeda Helpem Solomon Aelans Def Komiuniti: Inclusive Education project has been working to improve people’s ability to communicate with the deaf and hard of hearing and increase opportunities for deaf people in Solomon Islands.

The Catholic Education Office, Archdiocese of Honiara, which operates San Isidro Care Centre and School for the Deaf, is delivering the project in partnership with the Australian Catholic University (ACU) Faculty of Education and Arts.

Associate Professor of Education at ACU, Mellita Jones, who is leading the project’s ACU partnership, shared that in Solomon Islands there is a mixture of behaviours towards deaf people in communities ranging from forms of bullying, ignoring and neglecting deaf people to showing care and concern.

Overall, people reported that bullying and ignoring behaviours stem from a lack of knowledge on how to communicate with the deaf.

To date the project has trained trainers in sign language, produced 1,000 sign language books and 300 posters distributed to schools, clinics and churches to improve public knowledge of basic sign language.

The project has three phases beginning with training trainers of sign language in late 2022, through a three-month program where trainers resided at San Isidro Care Centre of the Deaf (Aruligo, West Guadalcanal). Training teams of two (one deaf and one hearing person) were then deployed to eight communities across Guadalcanal, Malaita, and Western Province to implement Phase two of the project: teaching sign language in communities.

“I was interested in becoming a trainer because there were a few people in my community who were deaf and mute, and no one really thought about them,” said a male sign language trainer.

Phase two was delivered in early 2023 with trainers providing sign language training to 221 school children and 277 members of the wider community. Attitudes towards learning sign language have been positive and participants were encouraged to continue to meet and practice their sign language skills, and to help others in the community to learn as well.

A closing program was recently held to celebrate the project’s achievements where certificates were awarded to 16 trainers for recognition of their time, skill and courage to present basic sign language training to those 498 participants.

Phase three is underway and includes delivery of the ACU Certificate in Learning and Teaching, recognised by the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MEHRD). There are 41 participants on track to attain this qualification by December 2023.

“MEHRD are happy to support this project and its contribution to building an inclusive society and achieving education for all,” said MEHRD Deputy Secretary, Coldrine Kolae at the closing program.

The San Isidro Care Centre and School for the Deaf was established in 2008 as a live-in Rural Training Centre that teaches deaf and hard-of-hearing youth vocational training and life skills, as well as sign language.

Iumi Tugeda Helpem Solomon Aelans Def Komiuniti: Inclusive Education project is supported by the Governments of Australia, New Zealand and Solomon Islands through the Solomon Islands Education Sector Support Program (ESSP) NGO Grants Program. ESSP aims to improve access to quality basic education for all Solomon Islands children regardless of gender, ability, and location. END////

San Isidro School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing students and Vice Principal

Group photo with trainers and San Isidro students at Iumi Tugeda Helpem Solomon Islands Def Komiuniti closing program June 2023

ESSP Govt representatives learning basic sign language from trainers

-MEHRD Press