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Introduction to The Silent Horn Foundation

“Be included, not excluded”

Samira Duale

Born in Mogadishu in war-torn Somalia, Samira Duale moved to London as a teenager but that was too late to get the medical help she needed. In Somalia, at the age of 8, Samira’s doctor discovered that she had an infection in her left ear which needed urgent medical attention. But unfortunately, her family was in poverty that they were unable to help to pay for the necessary medical treatment.

“Deaf people are usually regarded by the hearing world as having a lack, a missing a sense. Yet a definition of deaf people based on hearing loss obscures a wealth of ways in which societies have benefited from the contributions of deaf people.”

H-Dirksen L. Bauman and Joseph J. Murray

The Silent Horn Foundation was founded by Samira Duale in 2013. The board, (see Chapter 2), was appointed in 2015 to support Samira Duale’s ideologies for her foundation with formal legal, charitable, governance and management structure. The Silent Horn Foundation is very productive in various factors that is impacting on Deaf communities in Somalia such as; advocacy to Deaf people to allow them to know what their human rights are, awareness campaigning using the social and medical model of disability linked to special needs and deafness of deaf people according to Cameron (2014), community empowerment and education programmes in schools and universities in pursuit of the global eradication of the practice Deaf/Hard of Hearing. Samira Duale (see Chapter 3), has a unique and personal perspective on the practice of Deaf access and her experience, expertise and ambitions enlighten the Silent Horn Foundation’s evolving strategy 2015-2019.

The long-term goal of the Silent Horn Foundation is the establishment of Deaf education in Somalia and ultimately across the region of Africa and globally. It contributes to developing the access to education, public services and empowering Deaf people to have their sign language recognised by the United Nations, World Federation of Deaf and World Health Organisation; Advocacy, Awareness Campaigning, Community Empowerment/Education Programmes; simultaneously and from the unique perspective of the Disability Concept (see Chapter 4).

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History of The Silent Horn Foundation in Somalia

Somalia has been without a Central Government since 1991 due to the civil war and all public service have collapsed.

In Somalia, Deaf children have often been ignored and the Deaf has not been too well thought of some members in the circle of families and communities.

In Somalia, the following issues below proved there are so many barriers for the Deaf community in Somalia, therefore, it has been problematic for Deaf schools financially and for the Deaf people to find work in the sector of employment.

The Deaf citizens have been restricted from driving too compared to the system of the United Kingdom where it enables Deaf people to drive. Both Deaf and Hearing children in Somalia need trained teachers and outstanding education. Most of the Deaf people who live in Somalia use SOSL (Somalia Sign Language but not officially recognised).

Some small, private deaf schools have been advocating for the education of deaf children. Unfortunately, there are not any public education services in Somalia which makes this task very difficult for the teachers of Deaf children to fighting the education system.

The governments that have come to power since the start of the civil war have never been able to serve the needs of the Deaf community sufficiently. Because of this, there is no government office that can provide services for Deaf people.

Most schools in Somalia are privately owned and managed locally or by international non-governmental organisations (NGO). They are running by people who mostly are profit-oriented rather than goal-oriented. While thousands of schools that function well have been opened in Somalia during the past decades, there has not been any successful school of the Deaf. However, the few schools were not able to reach their goals; most notable was Borama school for the Deaf located in Somaliland which was established in 1997.

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This article is focusing on the specific factors for deaf education in Somalia such as; how it is affecting Deaf people regarding the education, styles in Deaf education, and the views of a Deaf student.

Factors Affecting Deaf Education

Several factors negatively and positively affect the education of Deaf and hard of hearing learners are applied in the country of Somalia. These factors include, among others are in the following: – the shortage of Deaf role models for Deaf learners, Somalia Sign Language (SOSL) not being recognised as a Language of Learning and Teaching (LOLT) by the Somali government and only a few teachers can be seen in the fluency of Somali Sign Language.

Shortage of Deaf Role Models for Deaf Learners

As a result of poor education or no education at all, Deaf Somali adults are largely excluded from educational opportunities and professional employment. Consequently, opportunities for Deaf students as professionals to return to school and act as Role Models are weakened.

The literature reveals that about 80% of the Deaf population is unemployed. This meant that Deaf children do not have enough appropriate adults as Role Models. The whole issue caused that Deaf adults to prevent them from being fully integrated into mainstream society as a result of their disempowering educational experience.

Although the Department of Education in Somalia has implemented adult basic education, Deaf adults remain discriminately excluded because there is no formal training of adult basic education providers as part of the accommodation of Deaf adults.

Regarding Deaf Somali children, some teaching assistants were employed by some schools for the Deaf also have a crucial role in the education of Deaf Learners. If accommodated properly, they can work in conjunction with educators by signing the content of the lessons to children and enable access for them to learn. They can generally serve Sign Models and Language Mentors to Deaf children. It is important that young Deaf children be exposed to Deaf adults as SOSL role models. As mentioned earlier, many Deaf adults do not have enough formal education to gain access to universities, training and they were forced to come back to schools for the Deaf to be a Teacher for Deaf.

Somalia Sign Language (SOSL) not recognised as Federal of Somalia

Since spoken languages established, there is a barrier for Deaf learners to education, Somalia Sign Language (SOSL) is the language tool through which they will gain equal access as a citizen in the education system alongside with their hearing peers.

If not used consistently by well-trained, skilled signers, Total Communication not only undermines Somali Sign Language but also creates a barrier to lessen the quality in Somalia Deaf education for Deaf children. If Somali Sign Language could be officially recognised and implemented as a subject, both teachers and learners would get an opportunity to separate Total Communication from SOSL.

This understanding would effectively lead to local and national respect for Somalia Sign Language as a real language with a legal status equal to that of the spoken language used in the education of hearing learners. Some Deaf people, Hard of Hearing people, and children of Deaf Adults (CODA) use SOSL as their first or preferred language in all the Federal of Somalia.