Deaf pupil’s language bid

2009-07-16 00:00

THE future of Kyle Springate (18), a deaf matric pupil at Westville Boys’ High School, hangs in the balance while the Education Department challenges his application to have sign language recognised as an official language for matric.

The case was due to be heard in the high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday and drew a large crowd of people from deaf and blind organisations who picketed outside the court in support of his cause.

The Education Department has noted its intention to oppose the application. The case was adjourned to August 19.

Springate is being supported in his application by his mother, Paige McLennan-Smith, and the Deaf Federation of SA (DeafSA) and the KZN Blind and Deaf Society.

Springate is asking the court to declare the failure of the national and KZN ministers of Basic Education to allow him to be examined on sign language for his senior certificate to be unconstitutional and unlawful. He is also seeking as an order allowing him to sit for the exam this year.

He submits that the rights of deaf pupils or those with impaired hearing are infringed by the existing education policies.

In an affidavit, McLennan-Smith says that if the application does not succeed, it will probably affect her son’s chance to attend university. He hopes to study for a Fine Art degree.

She says Springate has, by arrangement with Westville Boys’ High School, taken SA Sign Language as a subject for his entire high school career in anticipation of it being one of his matric subjects.

At the “11th hour”, she learned he cannot do so as it is not recognised as a subject for the National Senior Certificate exams.

She says Springate has worked hard and got to his final year because of his excellent ability to lip read.

Springate never took Afrikaans or Zulu in primary school and will need sign language to communicate with his deaf peers.

McLennan-Smith says that in 2006 when her son was asked to submit his subject choices for matric, the KZN Education Department issued a computer-generated form indicating that he was registered for sign language, and allocated it a subject code. She therefore had no reason to doubt that he could take it in his final year.

In October 2008 at a conference organised by DeafSA, she learned for the first time that the department has yet to approve sign language for matric. She and the school’s principal among others tried in vain to negotiate with the department.

To ensure that Springate qualifies for his senior certificate if the court application is unsuccessful, McLennan-Smith says her son has started studying dramatic arts. But he is trying to catch up on three years of work and is more exhausted than usual after a normal school day in which he is required to concentrate hard to lip-read.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.