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ANC Welcomes Progress on the implementation of South African Sign Language in SA Schools

13 September 2018

The Deaf Federation of South Africa (DeafSA) and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) appeared the before the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on Wednesday, 12 September 2018, to report on the implementation of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) for South African Sign Language (SASL).

According to DeafSA and DBE, a Curriculum Management Team and a Writing Team were assembled by the Minister of Basic Education, comrade Angie Motshekga, in 2010. The teams presented a report to the Minister, who accepted the findings and recommendations, and in 2014, the training of teachers started. In 2015, the SASL subject was implemented in the Foundation Phase of the school curriculum. In 2016, implementation began in the Intermediate Phase and in 2017, the implementation started in the Senior Phase. This year, in 2018, Grade 12 deaf learners will for the first time, write the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination in SASL as a Home Language subject.

The ANC applauds this historical step towards achieving language parity in our education system. As stated in Section 6 (4) of the South African Schools Act (Act 84 of 1996), "Sign language has the status of an official language for purposes of learning at a public school" and we therefore appreciate the effort put into ensuring that all South African learners receive quality education in the language they best understand.

We do however note the concerns raised by DeafSA on the fragmented education structures where deaf education is concerned, and the lack of sign language education from the Early Childhood Development Phase. The lack of the continuation of training of teachers for SASL resulting in inadequate communication between learners, teachers and hostel staff due to the inability to sign remains an area of concern.

Having noted the above, we commend the great work done thus far in ensuring that the language challenges faced by deaf leaners in our education system are addressed. Every learner must have access to quality education as stipulated in our Constitution. As Parliament, we will continue to provide the necessary oversight to ensure that deaf learners enjoy equal language rights like all other learners in our education system.

Issued by the Chairperson of the Study Group on Basic Education, comrade Nomalungelo Gina.


Nonceba Mhlauli

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