Deaf Education in Eswatini

By Peace Corps Eswatini
July 28, 2021

Kailie served as a resource for teachers and students at the High School for the Deaf, primarily focusing on the development of Deaf learners reading and writing skills in English.

Enter alt text

RPCV Kailie was posted to the High School for the Deaf in Matsetsa, Eswatini. The primary language used at the High School for the Deaf was Swazi Sign Language, while hearing teachers and the community at large used siSwati and English. The High School for the Deaf had 63 Deaf or Hard of Hearing students and 25 teachers, including two Deaf teachers and two Hard of Hearing teachers. The school also employed approximately 40 support staff, such as laborers, cooks, security guards, secretaries, and housemothers, many of which were also Deaf or Hard of Hearing. This made up her primary community, all of which used Swazi Sign Language as a common medium for communication. Kailie served as a resource for teachers and students at the High School for the Deaf, primarily focusing on the development of Deaf learners reading and writing skills in English.

To focus on the need for developing Deaf learners reading and writing skills in English, she began by developing functional assessments for reading, writing, and vocabulary. These assessments gave teachers a baseline from which to work on the Deaf learners English reading and writing development. She also joined Peace Corps’ World Wise Schools Project to connect students in Eswatini with Deaf and Hard of Hearing students in Washington, USA via a Pen Pal program.

Throughout her service, Kailie collaborated with teachers on their individual lesson plans, teaching them to adjust their plans to maximize the abilities of their Deaf learners. She worked with the school librarian to setup Scrabble games using both English and Sign Language tiles to enhance literacy development in a fun and engaging way. Kailie acquired seven offline Wikipedia programs, including Wikipedia Simple English, and installed them on the computer lab and department computers. She taught teachers to use the programs with their students. This gave teachers and students access to information without the need of the Internet and allowed teachers to assign age-appropriate research projects, while teaching computer and English literacy skills.

Audiology/Speech and Auditory Training

Upon learning that many students had unused hearing aids, sought the advice of the School Health Head Nurse in the Lubumbo region of Eswatini to learn the procedure for taking individual students to the Mbabane Government Hospital for Audiology appointments. Some students had only had hearing screenings, but never full audiology exams. She created a professional working relationship with the audiologists at the Mbabane Government Hospital and began taking groups of students to the city for exams and hearing aid checks.

Upon the request of some students to work on speech and auditory training, Kailie installed the CLIX program for speech and auditory training onto the computer lab computers and trained three hearing teachers in speech and auditory training for Hard of Hearing students. The teachers will use the information from the audiology testing to determine candidates for speech and auditory training, after which, interested students will have the opportunity to work on their speech, language, and listening skills.

Photo of RPCV Kailie and her students at the High School for the Deaf, Eswatini