Motion for sign language and braille education faces setback

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Government yesterday said the motion put forth by Chiengi member of Parliament Given Katuta, advocating for the introduction of sign language and braille writing as optional subjects in public schools was unnecessary.

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Minister of Tourism Rodney Sikumba who is currently acting as Minister of Community Development and Social Services asserting that the motion was unnecessary as the teaching methods and subjects were already part of the 2013 Zambia curriculum framework.

He argued that the government had gone above and beyond the motion’s request by introducing braille and sign language as optional learning areas, fostering inclusivity for learners with special needs or disabilities.

“We do not support this motion moved by an Honourable Member of Parliament for Chiengiā€¦ because government already introduced the braille and sign language as optional learning as enshrined in the Zambia curriculum framework of 2013,” said Sikumba.

“I would like to inform the House, Madam Speaker, that the Ministry of Education implemented the 2013 Zambia Educational Curricula, which outlined the teaching of the two options introduced as part of literacy and language to serve learners with interests, particularly children with special educational needs and or disabilities.”

Sikumba emphasized the importance of extensive consultations with the deaf and blind communities, service providers, teachers, and education professionals to refine plans of action.

However, Katuta expressed disappointment and accused government of being too political.

“Madam Speaker, I’m really disappointed because this is all political,” Katuta said.

“But I thank God that the whole nation has heard. And also the community who are concerned about this effort.”

Before the parliamentary debate, Disability Rights Watch Programmes Coordinator Bruce Chooma expressed eagerness for the motion’s success, urging MPs to support it.

Chooma advocated for sign language to be made mandatory in both public and private schools, challenging the focus on public schools only.

Other Members of Parliament supporting the motion, including Mufulira MP, Golden Mwila, Ronald Chitotela, among others, emphasized its urgency in addressing the needs of the deaf and blind communities during the debate in Parliament.

Following the debate, First Deputy Speaker Malungo Chisangano put the motion to a vote, with the House voting electronically using Bosch Mount Media units.

The results showed 19 in favor, 60 against, and 1 abstention.

Following the announcement of the results the speaker recognised the Presence of the Special Education Teachers Union of Zambia in the public gallery.

By Moses Makwaya

Kalemba November 30, 2024

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