WAEC urged to set separate exams for deaf candidates


New Member

Experts in the use of telegraphic symbols, the medium of instruction for the deaf, have appealed to the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) to consider setting separate examinations for hearing-impaired candidates to help ease the difficulties they encounter when taking the regular WAEC examinations. They contended that the 30-minute extra-time offered the deaf candidates sitting the BECE and SSCE examinations, did not help them overcome the difficulties faced when writing the papers on account of differences between the sign and English language.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at Koforidua on Monday, Mr John Nimo, a teacher at the Koforidua Unit School for the Deaf, suggested that the WAEC could alternatively decide to use a different marking scheme for the deaf students if the Council felt that the current mode of examinations could not be altered. He explained that the use of telegraphic language that is employed in tutoring the deaf was not premised on modern English grammar and syntax, thereby putting such students at a disadvantage. Such differences, he explained, could be bridged, if the Council involves sign language experts in the setting of the questions or in a situation where current modules are maintained, a different marking scheme could be designed for the deaf.

Mr Nimo said the difficulty of deaf students in appreciating the rules governing the regular English language had somewhat translated into average performances by the students whereas the reality is the mode of examination questions.

Madam Bernice Opoku, also a sign language teacher of the school, explained that the sign language had "very limited vocabulary" unlike other languages and the students were therefore at a lost when they encountered words that were never found in the sign language in public examinations.

Illustrating, Madam Opoku said whereas in the English language it will be grammatically incorrect to say "you late why?" or "why late you?" instead of correct English construction of "why are you late?" the former was perfectly correct for the telegraphic language.

Similarly, instead of "look at me", a deaf student is most likely to say "look, me", adding that though these were nevertheless exhaustive, many English words could never be found in the sign language and the best of experts could only make guesses in the process of translation.