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The Durban University of Technology (DUT) staff from the Information Systems Department’s Deaf Centre at Ritson campus, recently visited the Fulton School for the Deaf in Kloof.

The visit forms part of a series of outreach initiatives to the five schools for the Deaf in KwaZulu-Natal and aims to promote and encourage learners to further their studies in Information Technology (IT) with DUT. The DUT team was represented by Mr Sthembiso Thabethe, the Deaf Centre’s supervisor.  He is a Deaf postgraduate student at DUT and shared important information with a cohort of 30 learners from grades 10 to 12.

As a proud member of the Deaf community, Thabethe instantly became a role model to the learners. In South African Sign Language, Thabethe’s first language, learners witnessed the rewards of hard work and dedication and what it takes to function equally in a mainstream environment. Thabethe’ s presentation explained the role of the Deaf Centre as he shared information on how DUT and the IS/IT departments support Deaf students. He also clarified the entry requirements, how to apply to DUT, how to source funding opportunities and what career paths may be available upon graduation. Learners responded positively.

The Fulton school principal, Me Odette Swift, explained that Grade 12 learners apply to various institutions in August as part of their Life Orientation learning outcomes.

“The Deaf Centre offered continued support.  According to DeafSA (2011), ongoing challenges with English and South African Sign Language teaching and learning in schools for the Deaf have resulted in an average English literacy rate amongst school leavers equal to that of grade 4 or 5 hearing learners. This literacy dilemma spills over to other subjects and impacts maths especially. Most Deaf matriculants only take up Maths Literacy,” he said.

Swift called on the research community to conduct more investigations into the literacy levels of Deaf learners and to obtain more conclusive findings. DUT’s Thabethe also encouraged learners to work hard in obtaining high marks to qualify to study at DUT. He further thanked the IS Department for providing marketing collateral such as the DUT branded pens to the learners.

“The pen is mightier than the sword. I always carry a pen wherever I go. A pen for a Deaf person is the key to open many doors. We often resort to communicating with the hearing community that seldom understands South African Sign Language, with pen and paper. Go out there, keep your pen in your pocket; it serves as a key to open your mind. Remember it also opens doors to communication,” said Thabethe.

Pictured: Sthembiso Thabethe, the Deaf Centre’s supervisor, chatting to learners at the Fulton School for the Deaf.


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