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Date:  Sat Mar 4, 2000  1:17 pm
Subject:  Deaf Education in South Africa

Dear Trevor and other SignWriting members
Trevor, this is in response to your queries re ages and ethnic origins amongst Deaf school leavers in South Africa.
As we know in the history of South AFrica, white people had more benefits than black people.  The result of this is that white Deaf school leavers have had better general knowledge and writing skills than black school leavers (or those still in schoo, for that matter).  The Bantu Education Act was a separate schooling policy for black schools, much inferior than policies at white schools.  White schools had better qualified teachers than black schools.  At white Deaf schools, oralism was the basis for education while at black Deaf schools, the children were left to their own devices in many cases or they simply sat at home without any education for many years.  This has largely resulted in a highly illiterate Deaf community in South Africa - at least 70 % functionally illiterate.  However, the Sign Language of the black Deaf is much, much richer and developed than that of the white Deaf because the black Deaf were allowed to sign much more than the white Deaf (where Sign Language was strictly forbidden for many years).  Nevertheless, the average black Deaf school leaver is 22 years old and with the white Deaf, it is a few years younger (18).  However, since the abolishment of separate schooling in 1994, schools are now multiracial and this is where the inequalities in education in the past become very evident.  It is going to take a number of years to bridge the gap.  However, just because of the poor literacy levels amongst the Deaf community, there is a very rich Sign Language culture (esp in the black Deaf communities).  However, Sign Language and Deaf Culture in South Africa is a largely unexplored and unchartered territory which leaves much space for research and documentation -- which has started in the last five years.  So, we have a long way to go!
I hope this answers your questions?

  Replies Author Date
2990 Re: Deaf Education in South Africa Trevor Jenkins Sat  3/4/2000

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