Acute shortage of special schools for handicapped in Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City has 15 special schools for the hearing-impaired, where currently around 2,000 students are already enrolled.

Young students at a special school in District 10 in HCMC (Photo: SGGP)

This figure is relatively low considering the ratio is 1:1,000 hearing-impaired people in the country. Moreover, persons with physical disabilities have to stop studying at primary and junior school level because there is no facility for higher education.

The year 2000 can be considered as a milestone for the hearing-impaired as the Nippon Foundation launched a disability support project.

The program in Vietnam provides opportunities for secondary and tertiary education for deaf and hearing-impaired students through the medium of sign language.

Till now, 10 students have graduated from college, thanks to the program, and integrated in society to work at jobs.

Earlier, there was no facility for tertiary education in the country and hearing-impaired people had no choice but to self-study at home after finishing primary level. They hardly made ends meet with low pays and exhausting jobs such as waiters or waitresses, parking lot attendants or housekeepers.

Duong Phuong Hanh, director of the Center for Research and Education for the Deaf, said that in many countries across the world, it is normal for deaf people to pursue a master’s degree and participate in various activities, while Vietnam has no such advantage to offer the physically handicapped.

Another reason is that there are only two teacher training facilities for the hearing-impaired; one provides preschool teachers and another primary level teachers. In addition, there is a shortage of special tools needed to help disabled children hear.

The headmaster of a special school for the disabled said that more than 80 hearing-aids are available in the school, donated by international organizations, some of them in a poor state but the school has no funds to replace them.

Accordingly, students have to take turns to use the devices resulting in ineffective training.

A survey conducted by CED showed that 24.1 percent of deaf people face difficulties in communicating with strangers and 19.6 percent are upset with teachers who don’t understand their psychology.

Another negative factor is that enterprises would rather not employ disabled people or hearing-impaired workers as they are used to parents love and attention and hence suffer from an inferiority complex at their workplace. Besides, disabled people lack life skills and tend to be pessimistic towards life.

By Thu Tam - Translated by Uyen Phuong

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