Oral tests not the only plight of deaf students


  • Nation
  • Monday, 29 Sep 2003

BY CELESTE FONG

KUALA LUMPUR: The YMCA Self Reliance Centre for the Deaf has highlighted the plight of deaf students, saying that some of them are forced to continue their studies in vocational schools. 

Its executive-in-charge Lucy Lim said the issue of oral tests for the deaf was only the tip of the iceberg, adding that they faced other issues like the recent closure of special Form Four and Form Five classes for the deaf. 

She lamented that students in Form Three special classes were recently asked to further their studies in vocational schools in various states after being told the Form Four and Form Five classes would cease. 

Pointing out that the Government allocated 1% of public service posts for the disabled, she asked: “If they cannot complete Form Five and sit for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), what is the basic requirement for the disabled to apply for public service posts?”  

According to Lim, the students were advised by their teachers that attending vocational schools was the best choice. 

She said the students were given forms and told that not all of them would be sent to vocational schools of their choice as some would be sent to outstation schools. 

“Teachers tell us that deaf students cannot cope. Now, they want to put the students in ‘hearing classes’ if they request it. If they don’t, they will be sent to vocational schools,” she said. 

She said she was puzzled as deaf students should be encouraged to complete Form Four and Form Five and pursue higher learning since the Government was allocating 1% of public service posts to them. 

“If deaf students attend vocational schools, will they be eligible to enrol in the pioneer ICT resource centre which will be established to train the visually and hearing impaired in ICT skills, as announced in the Budget?” she asked, adding that she hoped the relevant authorities would look into the matter. 

On the issue of oral tests and upgrading of the present education system for the deaf, she said there was a lack of empathy. 

However, she commended National Unity and Social Development Minister Datuk Dr Siti Zaharah Sulaiman for noting that the hiring of the disabled was slow, and bringing up to the relevant authorities to exempt deaf students, especially those registered as private candidates, from oral tests in examinations. 

Deaf student Daphne Eng Foong Mei, 17, said she opted to study in Form Four with students who could hear as she did not want to continue in a vocational school. 

“I have some friends studying in a vocational school in Shah Alam, but they are not happy,” she said in an interview, interpreted by Lim. 

In her hearing class, Eng said she felt guilty sometimes when she had to bother her classmates for help. 

“Why do we have to be discriminated on our basic need to complete secondary education?” she asked, adding that she had to work harder by being deaf in a hearing class. 

Angela Fernandez said her niece, who is in a Form Three special class, had been advised to go to a vocational school.  

Fernandez said she knew her niece was interested in pursuing computer graphic design. After going to a college and finding out more about its requirements, she was told that SPM was the basic prerequisite for enrolment. 

“Will she be able to study computer graphic design of her choice in a vocational school? Even if she gets to do what she wants in a vocational school, is the school in the Klang Valley?” she asked. 

Anthony Chong, who took SPM two years ago, related how he was exempted from the oral test moments before he was scheduled to take it. 

“When I knew that lisan was part of the SPM exam, I wrote to the Special Education Department months before the test,” said Chong. 

When the exam was near, Chong said he approached a teacher to help him call the department but there was no reply. 

Before the oral test, Chong said he told the examiners about his situation but they said he had to sit for the oral test unless there was an exemption letter from the department. 

“I understand they have to follow policy, but I think there are things that can be done to make our world more friendly,” he said, adding that he obtained a fax from the department just moments before the test. 

Chong, a former student of Sekolah Menengah Damansara Jaya, obtained 8As in the SPM.  

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