Embangweni School for the Hard of Hearing
History of School School Classes School Life 20th Anniversary Accomplishments and Struggles



Embangweni School for the Hard of Hearing

First school block under construction ~ 1996

The Embangweni School for the Hard of Hearing was founded in 1994 on the Embangweni (Loudon) Mission Station. It was the first school for the deaf in the northern part of Malawi; before 1994 all deaf learners had to travel to Blantyre in the south of the country. Established at the urging of Mr. M.B. Hara and the Rev. Lloyd Tembo, Embangweni is a boarding school serving  200 students in 2015. There is a faculty of 12, plus a head teacher and a junior head teacher. There are also three deaf instructors who teach woodshop, tailoring and creative arts. A support staff of about 15 does the cooking , gardening and security detail; some stay overnight in the hostels.
The school serves students ages 6 to 21. Beginners come to school at age 6 and are enrolled in the Preschool section, where they learn basic sign language, beginning academic skills and beginning oral communication. After 3 years in Preschool, students move on to the Primary section and move through Standards (Classes) 1 through 9. The standard Malawian curriculum is used; in addition all classes include continued work on sign and oral communication. After completing Class 9, students take the standard school-leaving exam and each year several do well enough to be accepted for secondary school.
Students who do not do well with academics move to the Vocational Education section, where they learn advanced woodworking and tailoring skills. These students build all the furniture used at the school and leave school with the ability to earn a living in the hearing world.

Preschool 1

Woodworking class

  School Chapel

The school is owned by the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) and a strong Christian emphasis is obvious. Each school day begins with group prayers in the chapel; students participate with choirs, handbells, leading prayer and sometimes preparing and leading the entire service. Many individual classes also begin with a student-led prayer and the day ends with bedtime prayer in the hostels. The students attend worship at the congregation of their own faith; many attend the CCAP church on the mission station. The older students go to the English service where they frequently present a hymn on the handbells and have teachers who interpret the service in sign language for them.
 Students participate in daily chores and weekend activities. There are sports teams that compete against hearing schools in football (soccer), basketball and netball.

Boys basketball

Handbell choir
Two things in particular have set the school apart and encouraged acceptance by the community at large: handbells and the electronic readers (e-readers) project. In the year 2000, the school was given a set of handbells and students learned to ring using color-coded music. They ring often at school chapel, at the CCAP church English worship service and at special events. As far as is known, this is the only handbell choir in Malawi and they are often asked to come and ring at special events outside the area.

In 2014, the school began using e-readers as part of the Worldreader program. Donors provided 50 reader units, each containing 100 books. The readers are in regular use in the classroom and during free reading time. It is hoped this program will encourage reading which in turn should improve test scores and overall general knowledge.

Visitors are always welcomed at the Embangweni School for Hard of Hearing, whether for a few hours, a few days or several weeks. They can simply observe classroom activities or can share skills in teaching, craft projects or in other areas such as first aid training, teacher workshops and the like.


Students using e-readers

Visitors who can spend a longer time will begin to understand the progression of education as students move from Preschool 1 through the primary sections to become accomplished learners.
Some volunteers are able to spend weeks, months or even a year at the school. They will find themselves treated as part of the staff and will have opportunity to do expanded work. If they are able, as many are, to return year after year they will no longer be a visitor but a friend and colleague.

Donna Salamoff, visiting dramatic arts teacher

Short-term visitors are sometimes concerned about communication if they don't know sign language or Tumbuka. Lack of sign is not really a problem. The students are willing and able to communicate with actions or pictures; many of the older ones read enough English to understand things written on the chalkboard and a number are able to speech read in English as well as in Tumbuka.  



Visitor Wade Halva, helping with math

Linda Allen, Suzanne Vargo, Dan Brazelton greeting Mr. Mtonga

Jane Hall showing testing methods

Martha Larsen doing crafts

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In Malawi: Rev Dr. Timothy Nyasulu - CCAP Education Dept.
ccapeducation[AT]malawi.net +265 884-036-747
  In the USA: Carol Nussbaumer
carol@nussbaumers.net      (970) 586-2437