by Michelle Amba – EM TV, Port Moresby
A National Policy will be introduced to have sign language as Papua New Guinea’s fourth official language.
The country’s largest special education network, Callan Services, will have a publication on sign language to accompany the policy.
Callan has over 20 centres around the country, providing special education for children with special needs.
PNG’s deaf population has been missing out on services because of the communication barrier.
The policy will be tabled in parliament later this year.
Organisations like the Callan Services have provided services to the younger age group of the deaf population for more than 2 decades.
It has established its special education centre at Gerehu stage 6, in the nation’s capital, however little is known about the centre.
Callan is one of the only 4 institutions which provide special education for school aged children in the country.
Michael Lulu, Project Coordinator for Callan’s National Hearing Project, says many deaf are missing out on basic services because of communication difficulties.
This communication barrier is being addressed with the help of the government, and partners like Callan, to introduce a policy to have sign language as an official language.
A greater challenge now is to have qualified sign language interpreters at all basic government service providers like education, health and courts.
This will be of significance to deaf students like Valerie and Geraldine Pulpuli, two sisters who are clients of Callan’s special education school integration program.
They make up the 500 deaf students that have gone through Callan’s special education program.
Valarie and Geraldine are one of the many success stories and are currently doing grade 6 at Wardstrip Primary school in Port Moresby
These sisters have been scoring excellent grades in school because they have the same teacher since 3rd grade; Michael says there is an even greater challenge waiting ahead as they progress higher.
For now, things are easier for Geraldine and Valerie because they are in primary school but as they move further up into secondary level, their classroom learning will be difficult, and that is one of the concerns that Callan has raised to have professional sign language interpreters.