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  • Vocational Training in School Programs and Occupational Training at Colleges in South Africa
  • Deon De Villiers (bio)

Some estimates indicate that more than 90% of all Deaf persons in South Africa have no jobs, and that up to 100% of Deaf people in the rest of Africa have no work and no income, are not economically independent, and are abused and neglected by employers and society.

This very high unemployment rate is due to various factors. First is that the education and training system of the government fails to support Deaf [End Page 504] students. Second is the lack of knowledge of the leaders of schools and Deaf organizations in supporting the Deaf in their desperate need for skills training and occupational training. Deaf students and school leavers have no accredited skills training with which to gain access to the open labor market. One path, among others, that is open to Deaf persons is vocational education. There are, however, a few leaders at the school level and within Deaf organizations who do put in extra effort to train school leavers in skills for them to enter the labor market with vocational training, which unfortunately is not accepted by many workplaces in industry and employers. Employers pay good salaries for well-trained and skilled Deaf employees if they have accredited certificates. Sadly, the South African education system and school programs do not empower Deaf people to be productive, working citizens of South Africa.

Furthermore, there is the fact that only a few of the approximately 42 schools for the Deaf in South Africa have high school programs. The main focus at these schools is only on teaching the Deaf the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. This situation results in more than 90% of Deaf learners leaving school at age 16 years or younger with little or no exposure to any high school educational program and/or vocational training and no formal occupational training whatsoever. Those few Deaf learners who are fortunate enough to receive vocational training enter the open labor market with no formal or accredited occupational training and are exploited and hopelessly underpaid by the industry—an unacceptable but understandable situation because these Deaf students are not trained in skills for specific jobs and have no accredited certification.

More and more mainstream colleges (secondary schools) in South Africa are trying to make occupational training accessible to Deaf students by using interpreters, but because they are not sponsored by the government, the result is that only the few fortunate Deaf students of wealthy parents are able to attend these colleges. Lecturers at schools and colleges are largely unable to use sign language, voiceover, interpreting, and speechreading.

The only accredited occupational training institution in Africa is the National Institute for the Deaf—College of the National Institute for the Deaf (NID-College), where Deaf students from South Africa and Africa may enroll and, upon successful completion of their studies, receive accredited international certification in occupational training if they are from Africa. The South African occupational training authority, the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA), does not allow any applicants who are not in possession of South African identification books.

The primary focus of NID-College is to equip students with occupational skills. Students receive training in specific trades, as well as training in communication and life skills that go together with technical training in the industry. This process ensures that the students are properly equipped to enter the open labor market with confidence. NID-College offers quality occupational training and boasts a 90% success rate in work placement—double the percentage of placements of hearing college graduates in South Africa. Figures 1 and 2 show, respectively, the distribution of skill training programs at NID-College and the number of certificates awarded annually from 2001 to 2009.


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Figure 1.

Skills Training Programs Offered at the National Institute for the Deaf, Worcester, South Africa

Note. ECD, early childhood development.

The vision for NID-College is to establish more occupational training [End Page 505] satellites in South Africa and the rest of Africa in the years to come with the help and support of joint partnerships with...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-0375
Print ISSN
0002-726X
Pages
pp. 504-506
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-14
Open Access
No
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