The following is an article from the Junior Graphic, a publication serving the youth of Ghana. I have not been able to find a digital version of this article, and feel it is an important enough topic that I want to make it available to everyone. As a teacher at a School for the Deaf, this article resonates with my experience.
Wednesday, May 30-June 5, 2012 Issue No. 592
Why deaf students perform poorly in BECE
Story by: Severious Kale-Dery
The Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) has expressed concern over the poor performance of deaf students in the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and attributed the situation to the lack of well-trained sign language teachers in the country.
The Director of the GNAD, Mr James Sambian, said majority of the teachers in the deaf schools were not well-trained in sign language and often learnt the sign language from the students they were supposed to be teaching.
He said the teachers, therefore, taught students using the sign language they (the teachers) had learnt from the deaf students.
That, he said, had resulted in very poor grammatical construction in English becuse the way the students expressed themselves in the sign language influenced the way they wrote English.
“For instance, deaf students who want to write, ‘We are going to Kumasi’, write, ‘We, Kumasi go’. This is because that is how they express themselves in the sign language but which is not the correct way to write or speak English,” he explained.
The problem, Mr Sambian said stemmed from the fact that the way deaf students were taught to express themselves in the sign language was basically different from written English and that had created problems for deaf students, who had not been able to write good English in external examinations over the years.
Although deaf schools accept sign language expressions by students in examinations, they are not accepted during external examinations.
At the State School for the Deaf at Adjei Kojo in Ashaiman, the Headmaster, Mr Michael Castro Mawuli Cudjoe, admitted that most of the teachers who taught in deaf schools often learnt the sign language from the students but explained that the teachers, as much as possible, used what they leant from the students to teach them the right things.
On the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), he said deaf candidates wrote the same papers as candidates who did not have any disabilities, adding that the only concession for deaf candidates was that “they are given one and a half times the duration for all papers during the examination”.
He said even with the directive from the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) last year, some invigilators were not prepared to allow deaf candidates to stay on for the extra time, adding, “I had to intervene before that was done.”