Educating the Deaf in Vocational Skills: Selected Schools for the Deaf in Focus

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Unemployment is a major problem facing Ghanaian school leavers. This problem is sometimes more severe among school leavers who are deaf. This alarming trend is seen in the growing number of deaf persons turning into begging and other antisocial activities that degrade them and create negative reaction towards them by people who are not deaf. Information from Bechem Technical Institute for the Deaf in 2005 indicated that, eight out of ten students who graduate from the vocational centre in the school do not work with the vocational skills they have acquired in any gainful employment. This was linked to difficulties in the vocational education of the deaf and some social factors outside the school environment which limit the employment chances of the deaf. It was based on these that the study commenced to find out the underlining difficulties in vocational education of the deaf in Ghana and also to find out the reasons why those who undergo vocational education in schools for the deaf are not able to work with their skills either in self-employment or working in an existing venture. Books and other documents were read for information on the theoretical framework of school curriculum in Ghana, vocational education, attitudes towards the disabled with emphases on the deaf as well as empirical study relating to the topic. The study made use of qualitative research methodology in data collection, analysis and discussion. With three schools for the deaf in three regions of Ghana selected as a case study, the researcher employed observation, questionnaire and interview as data collection instruments. Data gathered were described with illustration. Photographic camera was also used to take pictures of selected artefacts made by students during the study. The main findings are that, vocational education faces multiple problems such as financing, unavailable up- to-date tools and materials and unsuitable syllabi and teaching/learning materials. Again, parental neglect, superstition and communication barriers were identified as the main problems that limit the employment chances of the deaf who have graduated with vocational skills. It is recommended that selection of teachers for vocational education in schools for the deaf should be based on adequate qualification in special need educational strategies. Moreover, stake holders in education should help in providing funds, infrastructure, suitable teaching and learning materials and tools. There should be a vigorous public education through the mass media aimed at eliminating all forms of negative attitudes, beliefs, superstitions and discriminations that hinder the employment chances of the deaf after leaving their schools' environment.
A Dissertation submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy