Accomplishments and Struggles




The list of accomplishments of the Embangweni School for the Hard of Hearing is long and varied. At the top is of course the education of hundreds of students who once were considered unable to learn. With very few exceptions, students who come to Embangweni learn to read and write Malawi's national languages of Chichewa and English as well as the regional language of Chitumbuka. Many also have a local language. They learn Malawi Sign Language and, because of the many Western visitors, most also do fairly well with American Sign Language and British Sign. Sign Languages are distinct languages with unique syntax and vocabulary, so many of the deaf at Embangweni are fluent in five or more languages. Training in vocational education provides a way to earn a living.

Math time - Preschool 4

Deaf student, Lonely, leading assembly


Many deaf learners successfully complete the Primary grades and do well enough on the Malawi School Leaving Examination to be accepted at Secondary Schools. Of those, some have completed Form 4, which is something many hearing Malawians never do. This is in spite of having little or no special education support help at the secondary level.
One deaf student, Fanny Singini, has completed Teacher Training College and is employed at the Bandawe School for Deaf, teaching Standard 4.

Less measurable but no less important is the accomplishment headed "Disability is not Inability". Learners may come to the school scared, shy and knowing almost nothing of the world but they leave as confident, educated young men and women. Because they have had many opportunities to meet and interact with Western visitors, the students understand a great deal about the world beyond Malawi. They learn to communicate and to use their communication skills to participate in classes, lead prayers at chapel and in the classroom when called on and lead worship at chapel. When participating in events off campus such as sports and joint activities with other schools, the deaf learners demonstrate their skills and debunk the myth that the deaf cannot learn.

Standard 8 boys with new Bibles


The Embangweni School for the Hard of Hearing has its share of struggles. Finding funding to keep the students fed and housed is a constant issue. The school receives some funding from the Malawi government, but it is not sufficient. Several donor churches in the USA and the UK are very faithful to help as they can.

Student-built bunkbeds in hostel

Girl's hostel


 The two hostels are beginning to show their age and are in need of upkeep. The classrooms also get hard use; Western groups sometimes come during the long holidays (June-August) to paint and upgrade them, which is much appreciated.
Classroom supplies need constant replenishment, especially chalk and chalk erasers, pencils, pens, and crayons. Teachers appreciate posters for classroom walls.


Class 5 meeting outdoors

Finding teachers can be difficult. Teachers need a "special needs" endorsement which means they have had advanced studies in special needs. Embangweni is remote (Mzimba, the closest large town, is about an hour and a half drive away); it takes a dedicated person to live and work there. 

                        Outdoor kitchen facilities