|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
Math time - Preschool 4
Deaf student, Lonely, leading assembly
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
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
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