Unlike the Braille education for visually impaired children in Khaling, Trashigang, the form of teaching meted out to the 73 students of Deaf Education Unit in Drugyal Lower Secondary School, Paro, does not meet international standards.
The students are taught local sign language.
According to the officiating Vice Principal of the school, Karma Tenzin, this is as per the education ministry’s directive of that there should be ‘indigenous sign language’ for every deaf school.
The director general of the education ministry, Tshewang Tandin, justified the directive saying “after knowing the local language, it is easy for the students to pick up the international language”.
Chencho Om, a special education teacher at the school says it is challenging to teach the students.
“To teach a single word takes two days and sometimes even a week.” she said.
It becomes very difficult, especially when children are taught the meaning of abstract things due to limited signs. However, she said it is easier to teach the students the meaning of concrete things.
In advanced countries, hearing tests are conducted and if the child is found with a problem, a hearing aid operation called cochlear implantation is usually performed.
But since the technology is not available in Bhutan, the students have no option but to resign to their fate unless they receive special attention and education.
Chencho Om said the students are now better off compared to the days when they were brought to the school first.
Karma Tenzin said there are plans to upgrade the deaf unit till grade X and send the children for higher education and to Vocational Training Institutes.
The special education unit is located near Drugyel Higher Secondary School so that the pass outs can pursue higher education, said the director general of the education ministry.
“However, the authorities are yet to experiment it,” he said.
At present, the unit has 13 teachers and eight supporting staff.
Apart from academic classes, the school also offers embroidery, knitting, tailoring, wood carving, and bakery lessons.
A recent health report report stated that the hearing impaired population in the country numbers around 2,286.