Early childhood, defined as the period from birth to eight years old, is a time of remarkable growth with brain development at its peak. During this stage, children are highly influenced by the environment and the people that surround them.
Early childhood care and education (ECCE) is more than preparation for primary school. It aims at the holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs in order to build a solid foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing. ECCE can therefore-nurture caring, capable and responsible future individuals.
That’s why ECCE is one of the best investments a country can make to promote human resource development, gender equality and social cohesion, and to reduce the costs for remedial programs later. For disadvantaged children, including deaf children, ECCE plays an important role in compensating for the disadvantages in the family and combating educational inequalities.
Even though inclusive early education is fundamental to the developmental stages of every single child on this planet, there is a large deficit in the provision of inclusive early education globally, which has gone unnoticed by governments, schools, educators, civil society organizations and even development partner groups around the world.
It is estimated that globally nearly half of all pre-primary-age children are not enrolled in preschool. Also according to the Early Years Study, “the concept of ECE today replaces outdated notions of daycare. Instead of ‘a place kids go while mom works’, today’s early childhood education provides a first tier of education that is as important as those that follow’’
Not only is the present early childhood educational systems around the world not offering adequate opportunities to include deaf children, it also doesn’t foster a great environment to help all children practice and enhance their communication skills
Deafness is a hearing disorder, not a learning disability. When they are able to access equal educational opportunities as their hearing counterparts, deaf children can excel and reach their full potential in life; An example is the story of Alysha Allen, a deaf teacher from Brimsdown, United Kingdom, who was recently awarded for using sign language in her classroom to support communication between her and her students.
This is an excellent blogpost and something we should consider embedding into ECE programs widely. Normalizing sign languages is only going to improve the human experience for all in education, social and emotional learning, opens doors to innovative thinking and more.
One perpetual challenge is that sign languages are not being promoted the way they should be in many countries. Many do not view sign languages as worthy of being the primary language of instruction for people who are deaf, hard of hearing and deaf blind -- much less the general population! As a result, many people who are deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind learn sign language late in life and are likely language deprived. Thereafter, society views them as 'less than' and ties the worth of sign languages to them.
Let's work together to normalize sign languages and improve quality of educaton and life for all. Check out some of the things USAID ( https://www.edu-links.org/topics/disability-inclusive-education) and All Children Reading is doing to address the need for sign language literacy. https://allchildrenreading.org/competition/sign-on-for-literacy-prize/
One more thing.. in times of COVID sign languages are critical to flattening the curve! No droplets in the air because your mouth doesn't have to open!
Kudos to Lily Kudzro and Devio for their efforts to recognize and promote native sign languages as the modality of instruction and communication. To be succinct, sign language is the foundation for early and successful language acquisition; literacy cannot be achieved until a deaf learner has competency in first language skills, which needs to be the sign language of their respective country. There is abundant empirical data that supports this approach. I recommend reading the briefs at https://www3.gallaudet.edu/clerc-center/info-to-go/asl/summary-vl2-rese…
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