School Classes



The Embangweni School for Hard of Hearing provides classes for students ages 6 to 21 years. Many learners will spend twelve years at the school, moving from preschool through the primary grades. The school is a "total communication" facility, meaning the faculty and staff use any means possible that will help the student. Sign language is a big part of it, but the students are also taught spoken language and encouraged to use it as much as they are able. Teachers draw pictures on the chalk board, act out concepts, involve learners in using manipulative objects, hold classes outdoors - in short do anything that will enhance learning.

                         Mr. Ndolo teaching

Mr. Mtonga teaching speech

Preschool section includes three classes. These students are the "beginners", who may come to school with little or no comprehension of language and very limited communication ability. The first year focuses on socialization skills, learning basic signs and beginning to produce oral speech. They learn to recognize letters and a few basic words in Chitumbuka as well as beginning math skills such as counting. Preschool 2 and 3 students learn more language skills as well as writing numbers and doing basic addition and subtraction. They continue to practice oral language skills daily.

Speech practice


 Mr. M. Kaunga with Preschool 2
The Lower Primary section includes Classes 1 through 5. They use the standard Malawian school curriculum as well as continuing work on sign language and oral communication. In class 3 the students begin to learn Chichewa and in class 4 beginning English.

Mr. Zungu & class 6

Class 8
Upper Primary section is Class 6 through Class 9. Although standard Malawi education ends with Class 8, it is felt the hearing impaired students need an extra year before writing the school leaving exam.

The goal for class size is 10 students per class. It is difficult to maintain this level since there are so many deaf students wanting a place at school. The Primary section usually has 12 to 15 students per class; some of the upper primary classes reach 18 or even 20 students.

Some students move into the Vocational Education Program. In this program, students learn woodworking skills and tailoring. The students make all the furniture for the school (desks, chairs and benches, tables, beds) and are taught very practical skills such as how to make a roof for a building and how to build coffins.

Vocational ed girl repairing a chair

Lynn Sheehan with advanced tailoring class



Teachers at the school must have special education certification. At present, there is no advanced training program in Malawi which focuses only on the deaf. All advanced training is for "special needs" which includes deafness, blindness and mental disabilities. Despite the difficulties, many of these teachers have chosen to spend their career with these students. One such teacher leaving for advanced training said "I will come back to teach the deaf. Teaching the hearing is now boring to me."


Faculty 2010

Staff Handbell Choir 2012