Moroccan Ministry and USAID Empower Deaf And Hard Of Hearing Grade Schoolers During Pandemic
The broadcasted sign language courses benefit thousands of deaf and hard-of-hearing primary school students by teaching them different subjects in sign language such as Arabic, French, mathematics, and science
By Mounya El Asri and Laila Khana
Rabat, Morocco — Atika El Alaoui is the mother of eight-year-old twins who were diagnosed with hearing loss before their first birthday.
When Moroccan schools closed during the pandemic, Atika grew concerned that her children, Saad and Fahd, would fall behind in their education, especially because Atika isn’t proficient in sign language.
“I could never learn how to communicate with Saad and Fahd properly or help them with their school homework, as I am illiterate and [have] not mastered sign
language,” she says.
But, in an effort to keep deaf and hard of hearing students learning at home, the U.S. Agency for International Development partnered with the Ministry of Education, through the National Program for Reading, to create courses taught in Moroccan Sign Language for Grade 1 through 6 students.
Since May 2020, the courses have aired on Moroccan television, as well as on TelmidTice, an education platform managed by the Ministry.
Atika felt relieved that her twins weren’t deprived of educational resources during the pandemic because of their different learning abilities.
“I thought that because they can’t hear, it would be impossible for them to learn through the phone and television, like other students,” she says. “Thanks to this new sign language program and teachers’ efforts, my twins were able to follow along with the school program successfully.”
The broadcasted courses benefit thousands of deaf and hard-of-hearing primary school students by teaching them different subjects in sign language such as Arabic, French, mathematics and science.
Atika says the sign language courses are also helping her communicate with her children.
“With the help of the distance learning Moroccan Sign Language program, I feel that I can start learning the basics of sign language, too, and better communicate with my twins,” she says.