Senators Advocate for Compulsory Sign Language Education in Schools

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MASVINGO – Senators Anna Shiri and Ishmael Zhou, representing Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), are spearheading efforts to introduce legislation that would make Sign Language a mandatory subject in schools.

During a meeting held last Monday at the Civic Centre, Senators Shiri and Zhou conveyed their commitment to PWDs, emphasizing the importance of incorporating Sign Language into the national curriculum.

The gathering preceded Parliamentary consultations on the forthcoming Persons with Disabilities Bill, scheduled from May 13th to 17th, 2024. This bill aims to replace the existing Disabled Persons Act Chapter 17:01 of 1992, as amended in 1996.

The Joint Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare, alongside the Thematic Committee on Gender Development, is set to conduct public hearings on two bills: The Persons with Disabilities Bill (H.B.2, 2023) and The Private Voluntary Organizations Amendment Bill (H.B. 2, 2024).

“As Senators with disabilities, we advocate for a Sign Language Act within our legislative agenda. Sign Language should be formally recognized and taught nationwide, including at tertiary education institutions to accommodate those pursuing higher studies,” Senator Zhou articulated during the session.

In addition to advocating for legislative changes, the meeting aimed to provide PWDs with updates on the progress made by the two Senators since their election.

George Chidhakwa, a representative of the disabled community, emphasized the importance of promoting and maintaining special schools for PWDs, ensuring their continued existence.

The initiative led by Senators Shiri and Zhou underscores a broader effort to enhance inclusivity and accessibility for Persons with Disabilities, with Sign Language education serving as a pivotal step towards achieving these goals.