Lead SALead SA

Sign language included as a subject for matric exam

Written by: Lilford Lesabe

Sign language was included as a subject for the first time in the 2018 National Senior Certificate exams, in what the Dominican School for the Deaf described as a major victory for the deaf community.

South African Sign Language (SASL) was recognised by the Department of Basic Education as an official home language in 2018.

According to Cindy Rutter, the principal at the Dominican School for the Deaf in Wynberg, four learners in the Western Cape took the 2018 sign language exam.

They had to do bridging courses in Grade 9, 10, 11. They had to learn what kids learn when they do English or Afrikaans throughout school. Sign language has its own grammar and structure, so from Grade 9 they had to catch up

Cindy Rutter, Principal at the Dominican School for the Deaf

For the final exam in sign language, learners worked in closed-off booths where they watched questions in sign language then video-recorded themselves signing answers.

“They watch the question, sign the answer and then file it [on the laptop],” said Rutter.

She said a challenge implementing the new policy was access to resources. This was the first time students were studying SASL as a home language, so there were no textbooks on sign language as a home language, or former students who had studied SASL in high school, to draw on. Everything had to be developed from scratch.

Rutter said the curriculum was limited but would develop. Among the resources to be developed were deaf poets and storytellers recording their stories for deaf learners to study.

Rutter stressed the importance of language as a tool for empowerment and inclusion. She said the recognition of sign language as a home language for matric put “a minority group on the map”.

It is a great victory for us. It gives confidence to deaf people, because their language is recognised

Cindy Rutter

Jabulane Blose, CEO of South African National Deaf Association (SANDA) which promotes and advances the rights of deaf people, labelled the new policy “a major milestone in the consolidation of the rights of deaf people to balanced and accessible education.”

But Blose highlighted challenges with the implementation of SASL as a home language:

More training and qualified educators were needed; Deaf people should be included in the development of the language and policies; and SASL needed its own curriculum, instead of copying the English curriculum. According to SANDA, there are over four million deaf and hard-of-hearing (partially deaf) people in South Africa.

This article first appeared on Ground Up page and was written by Lucas Nowicki https://www.groundup.org.za/article/sign-language-included-subject-matric-exam/

It has been republished with minimal editing.




Read next from articles

Groote Schuur unveils new cancer machine that can treat 40 patients a day

Groote Schuur unveils new cancer machine that can treat 40 patients a day

New cancer machine at Groote Schuur hospital to tackle baclog and ever increasing number of cancer patients.
Read on...

World Asthma Day takes place on the 7th of May

World Asthma Day takes place on the 7th of May

Each week Tracey Lange profiles an influential female advocate.
Read on...

Popular broadcaster kicks off Give me a Pad drive

Popular broadcaster kicks off Give me a Pad drive

Cape Town media personality, Mihlali Mitch Matyana starts a sanitary pad drive for his birthday.
Read on...

LeadSA celebrates the October 2018 Hero of the Month

LeadSA celebrates the October 2018 Hero of the Month

Teacher and social entrepreneur Katlego Thwane is LeadSA Gauteng October 2018 winner.
Read on...

#GivingTuesdaySA officially launched in South Africa

#GivingTuesdaySA officially launched in South Africa

Following the success of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, sees #GivingTuesdaySA officially launched.
Read on...

Ntsikayezwe Development Foundation honored as Lead SA Hero

Ntsikayezwe Development Foundation honored as Lead SA Hero

Ntsikayezwe Development Foundation founder Mpolokeng Mudau chats to Ayanda MVP as the Lead SA hero for the month of September
Read on...