SIGN LANGUAGE TO BE OFFERED IN SCHOOLS
By: Samukelisiwe Mkhwebane
The “fake” sign languageinterpreter at former President Nelson Mandela’s memorial service last year, has prompted the need for sign language to be taught at national school level.
President Jacob Zuma made the announcement this year’s State of the Nation Address last week Thursday. This announcement follows after Tamsanqa “the fake interpreter” Jantjie was hired to interpret at the late former president Nelson Mandela’s memorial service Jantjie was accused of falsely interpreting the speeches from various heads of state according to the Sign Language Association which then caused much embarrassment to South Africa’s sign language standards.
Zuma said that adding this language as a subject will improve the country’s diversity. “To promote inclusivity and diversity, the South African sign language curriculum will be offered in schools from next year,” said Zuma.
While others had mixed emotions about the announcement, Nonhlanhla Khumalo who is deaf and relies on sign language for communication is pleased that it will be offered in schools but wishes it could have been done a long time ago.
“I have two boys and I had to teach them myself how to communicate using sign language so that they can interpret for me when I have to get a message across for people who don’t understand sign language,” said Khumalo.
Simphiwe Zulu, an alumnus at the UNISA applauded the initiative of sign language being enrolled as a subject in national schools but is worried about the availability of the teachers.
“This is a very good idea because deaf people are also human and deserve to be taught in their language of understanding. But I wonder whether there will be enough teachers to teach as this country is already suffering with the shortage of teachers in all school levels.”