RENAISSANCE SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF
The Renaissance School for the Deaf (Senegal) is a school responsible for educating children with hearing impairment. It was founded in 2007 and is located in Dakar on the road to Hann Mariste II.
The school is blessed with teachers trained in the Senegalese national curriculum as well as student-teachers trained on the job in order to care for school- aged deaf children. It is based on the use of the West African sign language.. The school currently has four classrooms for four teachers. Combined classes allow for instruction over a greater range of levels. Each year, the students’ ages range from 5 to 16 years. There are currently 35 children attending grades in the introductory course CI to through CE2. Students are accepted regardless of gender, race, religion, and social belonging.
We currently do not own our own school, but are able to operate through the financial support of both individuals and missions. The building was designed as a residential building, and, where possible is tailored to the specific requirements for a school. The school has four classrooms located in the 3 story building. The land, being limited by its size, does not allow children to engage in sports on site.
The children come from various social classes but particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, large and sometimes poor families where they could not, unfortunately, be taught sign language due to financial reasons or a lack of information.
This knowledge is essential before any other instruction because it is imperative to build a genuine method of communication. A child constructs his intelligence through the naming of objects and language development.
Being immersed in sign language allows the child to understand his or her family, social, emotional cultural and intellectual context. The consequences of deafness are substantial and not to be ignored.
Programs and Teaching Cycles
Programs and timetables are those established by the Ministry of National Education of Senegal; All of the main subjects are taught. The children’s education is also supplemented by volunteers, both local and ex-patriots.
One challenge lies in the application of the teaching approach and more particularly in the use of appropriate tools of communication (images, gestures, cued speech …).
The educational program covers a period of six years and uses the gestural method of total communication, practiced elsewhere. It combines gestures, lip reading, and writing with West African sign language.
Students who finish their training after Middle Course Year 2 (CM2) should continue in high school. However at present, there lacks an approved structure for this in Senegal.
Specifics regarding deafness
The causes of deafness are manifold: they can be genetic, infectious (such as meningitis), or a result of drug use.
Deafness is a unique handicap in that it is not obvious. It is a fundamental communication disability whose consequences are felt in all areas of life from birth onwards. It affects family education, literacy level, social acceptance, general understanding.
Sign language (regardless of the country) is the means by which deaf individuals communicate. Thus, it compensates for verbal communication. It is a separate language, with grammatical form, expressions and specific phrases as well as its own transitions.
The discovery of deafness in a child is always an emotional shock for parents, siblings and family. Advice and information will facilitate understanding but not negate the suffering that accompanies it. Despite the learning of sign language, all communication will require a large effort and continuous investment from the deaf and from those around them.
It is particularly true that in the geographical, social and economic context of West Africa, the practicality of putting in place a system of hearing aids, which are difficult to acquire, increases the daily challenges of managing deafness.
Therefore, the ideal is at present, for at least one parent to acquire this « new » language as early as possible so as to quickly enter into communication with the child.