Rethinking Education of Deaf Children in Zimbabwe: Challenges and Opportunities for Teacher Education


The study explores the communication challenges faced by teacher trainees in teaching deaf learners and the opportunities that they present. A critical disabilities study approach within the qualitative paradigm was employed to collect interview data from 14 trainee teachers (6 were men and 8 women) and 5 of their specialist mentors (all of them were women) at 3 special schools in Zimbabwe. The trainees were aged 28–45. Data were analyzed using theme identification methods. Results showed that all the mentors and trainees without deaf assistants tended to teach using spoken language and even though they had no prior experience with them, they were suspicious of the use of deaf assistants, whom they saw as synonymous with sign language. Scepticism about using sign language was based on the idea that it was inadequate, would interfere with spoken language development, and would not enable learners to be included in a nondeaf world. It was also established that most of the mentors and trainees with deaf assistants used spoken language to teach, although this tended to be in combination with signs. Based on these challenges, opportunities to develop the education of deaf learners are discussed and recommendations made. 

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