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Don’t Stigmatise Us, Deafness Is Not Contagious- Students 

Staff and students of the Buea School for the Deaf and Dumb have urged Cameroonians to stop the stigmatisation, isolation and discrimination against them.

The students and officials of the institution brought their plight to the public, while participating in celebrations marking the International Week of the Deaf which took place from September 21 to 27 in Buea, under the theme; “10 years of deaf education and empowerment.”

The students carried placards with various messages, like; ‘Deafness Is Not A Curse’, ‘Sign Language Is Our Language’, ‘We Need Sign Language Teachers’, ‘Deaf People Can Become Teachers,’ among others,” as they marched past the Buea Independent Square to Mile 17.

The Dean of Studies for Secondary Education in the institution, Ruth Bakia Ayuk, highlighted some of the internal challenges the institution is facing, especially as a boarding school.

“To care for these children is not easy. To teach and ensure their comprehension of certain lessons is quite challenging. In some cases, one has to create signs for certain words, especially scientific and literary expressions, which, she said, is not easy, since signs are not vast as the English Dictionary.
“Another pressing challenge is the shortage of staff. As it stands, we have just a teacher per subject, which makes our job more tedious,” she said.

According to Bakia, the children feel so isolated, such that, at times, they experience psychological trauma and even fright during public exams.

She said it would do a lot of good for the students if the Government gives them a little attention by creating more schools for the deaf or help in the payment of their teachers.
“In other countries, such schools exist aplenty, but the Cameroon Government cannot boast of one. We really need attention,” Bakia averred.

The Dean said the Government has ignored them to the extent that its officials even claim ignorance of the existence of deaf people in the country whenever they complain.

She said the situation is further aggravated by the fact that some parents abandon their own children to the school, simply because of their disabilities, while others don’t even bother to pay their children’s fees. She revealed that the school is still functioning till date, thanks to the charity of certain organisations and individuals.

“We will continue to call on both the Government and the general public to hear our cry and do something about it,” Bakia stated.

The Buea School for the Deaf went operational in 2003 and has as motto Faith, Wisdom and Discipline. Within its 10 years of existence, it has registered great successes. During the 2014/2015 academic year, it recorded 100 percent in the First School Leaving Certificate and 71 percent in the Ordinary Level examinations.

By Emma Yoti Lyonga & Melanie Zhuh Vetine, (UB Journalism Students on Internship)