Project helps Deaf children ready for primary education and develop full cognitive abilities
HANOI, August 10, 2015 — A joint education project has provided home-based sign language education for 255 Deaf children under six years old in four Vietnamese cities and provinces to prepare them for formal schooling.
“The first six years of life is vital to a child’s development,” said Vu Lan Anh, Human Development Specialist, the project team leader, the World Bank in Vietnam. “It’s critical to help Deaf children reach their full cognitive abilities in those early years.”
The Intergenerational Deaf Education Outreach Project (IDEO) created an innovative model of family-support teams—including a mentor who is also Deaf, a sign language interpreter and a teacher who is not deaf, as known as “hearing teacher”—to teach sign language to Deaf children and their families in their own homes.
“This model brings together Deaf adults, children and their families. Through a ‘family-centered, learner-friendly’ approach, it helps the children realize their full potential,” said Ms. Le Thi Kim Cuc, program manager of IDEO project, World Concern Development Organization in Vietnam.
Initial project evaluations show that using sign language has helped improve Deaf children’s language and cognitive development as well as communications ability and general knowledge. The Language and Cognitive Development score of IDEO children aged 5 to 8 is 7 out of 10, compared with 8 of five-year-old hearing children.
The project, which is funded by the Japanese Social Development Fund, administered by the World Bank, and implemented by World Concern Development Organization, has developed professional human resources for preschool education for the Deaf in Hanoi, Thai Nguyen, Quang Binh and Ho Chi Minh City.
The project trained more than 50 Deaf adults to become mentors to Deaf children. It also helped train, about 200 hearing teachers in the use of sign language, so that they could support Deaf children more effectively. More than 50 hearing people were trained as communication facilitators or sign-language interpreters.
In addition, the parents of Deaf children learned how to communicate with their children every day at home and become actively engaged in activities within the Deaf community. For instance, in Hanoi, an art club has been established by the Deaf Children’s Parents Association to provide pre-school-age Deaf children with arts and soft skills lessons for free.
“Nationwide, some 15,500 children under six are Deaf or have a hearing impair. Most of them do not have access to early childhood education and their parents lack professional support,” said Vice Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Thi Nghia. “IDEO is the first project in Vietnam targeting pre-school-age Deaf children. Its results play a critical role in our 2011-2020 national strategy for educational development, which aims to make pre-school education universal for five-year-olds.”
The project has a budget of $2.8 million, with an additional $130,000 from the Vietnamese government.