Updated  
February, 29 2012 17:18:00

Deaf children to have access to "native" sign language

HA NOI – Deaf children in Viet Nam will soon have access to opportunities to learn their native sign language through the project "Intergenerational Deaf Education Outreach", which was launched today in Ha Noi.

The 2012-15 project is being funded by the Japanese Social Development Fund and entrusted to the management of the World Bank, with a budget of US$2,798,270 plus VND2 billion ($95,000) from the Vietnamese Government. It is being implemented by the World Concern Development Organisation in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Training in Ha Noi, Thai Nguyen, Thua Thien Hue and HCM City.

The children will learn how to communicate in order to develop their cognitive abilities and social awareness.

At least 150 children will have access to the training, and 30 hearing impaired adults will also be trained as educators and mentors.

In addition, 80 teachers will be trained in sign language and speech therapy so that they can support the children more effectively while a team of 25 people will be trained and certified as sign language interpreters.

Deputy Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Vinh Hien said that about 20,000 deaf children entered primary schools each year in Viet Nam, and for many years, the ministry had supported children with disabilities with the main focus on integrated education.

"We appreciate this project will help children learn and grow with their native sign language. With support from deaf adults, teachers and interpreters, it will go a long way to helping the children fulfil their full potential," said Hien.

Counsellor of the Japanese Embassy in Viet Nam Toshihiro Kitamura said Viet Nam had recently entered the group of middle-income countries and had also achieved many of its Millennium Development Goals ahead of schedule. Nevertheless, there still remained many poor and vulnerable people and helping them to alleviate their hardships was one of the big agendas.

"As a representative of the Government of Japan, I whole-heartedly hope that this project will create a lot of smiles and become an effective model from which not only other provinces in the country but also other countries can learn," said Toshihiro.

At the launch ceremony, 28-year-old Nguyen Tran Thuy Tien, a deaf student studying at Dong Nai University expressed her gladness about the project, saying it would benefit many deaf people, including herself.

"When I was a little girl, I was sent to a kindergarten and primary school for impaired children in HCM City where I learnt to lip read, but I could only understand about 30 per cent of what the teacher was saying. My classmates and I didn't understand much about our surroundings, and we were unable to confide in our parents," said Tien.

Tien said her life changed dramatically in 2000 after she joined a sign language course in Dong Nai Province. Her life improved significantly after that, including the relationship with her family and friends.

"Since then, I have dreamt of helping children who are in the same position I was. The more people the project can reach out to, the more it will help the hearing impaired contribute to the community," said Tien.

Tien has opened clubs for deaf children but continues with her sign language studies.

The project is a new approach for Viet Nam, but it has been successfully applied in Thailand and several other countries over the last decade.

Close partnership and collaboration between all those involved is expected to make the project effective and fruitful, and enable it to develop beyond its time frame. -- VNS

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