Picture: 123RF/CHALERMPHON KUMCHAI
Picture: 123RF/CHALERMPHON KUMCHAI

South African Sign Language (SASL) has been officially recognised as a home language in the country’s education system.

"It is a source of great elation for all in the education sector that SASL is finally being recognised as part of the overt curriculum — as it always should have been‚" said Umalusi (Quality Council for General and Further Education and Training) spokesperson Lucky Ditaunyane.

"Deaf learners in SA no longer need to feel like foreigners in their own land‚ and at last they can exercise their rights to be taught and assessed in their own language," he said. "This may be a bigger step than many people realise‚ for in recognising SASL as a home language in our education system‚ the system is, by implication, recognising deaf culture as a fundamental part of South African culture."

On Friday, Umalusi released a report of its research study on the inclusion of SASL in the curriculum as one of the examinable subjects for the National Senior Certificate. The aim of the study was to provide guidance to the quality assurer for SASL as a home language with specific reference to school-based assessment and national examinations.

The scope of the study also encompassed understanding how deaf learners are assessed, as well as the kind of resources and materials required for assessment‚ including identifying potential national moderators and evaluators.

Chairperson of the Umalusi council Prof John Volmink said on Friday: "Today we can say to deaf learners that the system has fully embraced them; that their language is valued and respected; and that they now have the opportunity to learn and study and be tested through the medium of their home language."