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School is Life for Deaf Children in Pakistan

Students at a Pakistani school for the deaf have lively faces and mischievous smiles, and they follow their sign language teacher’s hand movements with their hands.

The calm classes, which are frequently taught by deaf teachers, radiate happiness.

Qurat-ul-Ain, an 18-year-old deaf woman who started attending the school a year ago, said, “I have friends, I speak to them, joke with them, we discuss our stories with each other regarding what we have done instead of not done, we support each other.”

At this historic inner-city school in Lahore, more than 200 students, mostly adults from underprivileged backgrounds, are among the few who are given a fresh zest for life.

Less than 5% of Pakistan’s more than a million school-age deaf children attend formal education.

Girls’ rates are much lower, and many young people experience marginalisation from both their families and society as a whole because they lack the language to express themselves.

“Life can be challenging at times. People in this area typically lack sign language skills, which creates a significant communication gap, according to Qurat-ul-Ain.

Students learn sign language in both English and Urdu at the Deaf Reach charity school before moving on to the national curriculum.

In sign language, each person has a name that usually corresponds to a physical attribute.

Younger children pick up information visually; an image is linked to a word and a sign.

When an answer is incorrect, their peers give the thumbs down; when an answer is correct, they make the applause sign (twisting hands).

Families that are learning to sign

Deaf Reach, an American nonprofit organisation founded in 1998 and supported by donations, presently operates eight schools nationwide, serving 2,000 students on a “pay what you can afford” basis, with 98 percent of the students receiving scholarships.

The great majority of the school’s pupils are from hearing families, who can also take advantage of the opportunity to learn sign language and help their child overcome communication barriers.

Adeela Ejaz talked about how difficult it was for her to accept that her 10-year-old first child was deaf.

“When I couldn’t understand what he was trying to say he would bang his head against the wall and floor,” the woman, who is 35, told AFP.

Everyone found it difficult because they were unable to communicate with him. I wasn’t ready to accept that he is deaf, even though everyone would tell us that.”

The mother-son duo is currently acquiring sign language skills.

“I can now converse with my son and my signing skills are improving. He is now incredibly devoted to me.”

The programme offers a phone app and an online dictionary, among other technological features.

Additionally, it has helped over 2,000 deaf people find jobs with about 50 Pakistani businesses.

Huzaifa, 26, was placed in a stitching apprenticeship at Deaf Reach to assist him in breaking into the skilled workforce after developing a fever at a young age that left him deaf.

“The government school’s teachers were not proficient in sign language. They would simply write notes and instruct us to copy them from the board. We used to get really discouraged, and I would worry so much about the future,” he said to AFP.

Prior to receiving official coaching, his family assisted him in learning the fundamentals of sign language as part of their push for him to pursue an education.

“My parents never abandoned me. They went above and beyond to make sure I could finish my education,” he remarked.

He declared, “I’d be working as a day labourer somewhere, cutting leaves or cementing walls,” in the absence of their commitment.

Feeling scared and alone

Sign language is different in every nation, has a distinct culture attached to it, and occasionally has regional variances.

Of the estimated 70 million deaf people worldwide, 80% do not have access to education, according to the World Federation of the Deaf.

“I used to play outside or sit idly at home on my phone. “I was clueless about what people were saying,” stated 21-year-old Faizan, who has worked at Deaf Reach for 11 years and aspires to work overseas.

“I used to feel really weak mentally, have an inferiority complex, and be afraid before learning how to sign. But happily, that is no longer the case.”

In Pakistan, where laws prohibiting discrimination have been passed, attitudes towards individuals with disabilities are gradually improving.

“We have witnessed a significant shift in mentality over time. The director of operations for the organisation that created Deaf Reach, Daniel Marc Lanthier, observed that many people hide their deaf children out of embarrassment or shame.

Though there is still much work to be done, he noted that families are now “coming out in the open, asking for education for their children, asking to find employment for them.”

“With a million deaf children who don’t have access to school, it’s a huge challenge, it’s a huge goal to be met.”

Muhammad Imran
Muhammad Imran
I am an experienced content writer with a passion for crafting engaging and impactful content across various platforms. Skilled in audience research, storytelling, and SEO optimization. I am proficient in creating clear, concise, and compelling copy that resonates with readers. Strong ability to adapt tone and style to suit diverse audiences and brand voices. Dedicated to delivering high- quality content that drives results and enhances brand visibility.

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