Signal Charity - Deaf Awareness in Malawi, Africa

Our largest international programme is based in the Northern Region of Malawi, working with partners CCAP (Church of Central Africa Presbyterian).  CCAP  have been working in the field of education since 1875 through the provision of nursery, primary, secondary and special schools, technical and teacher training colleges predominantly in rural areas of small, poor subsistence farming communities.

Our programme with CCAP works to provide children who are deaf, hard of hearing or with other special needs, access to a quality and relevant primary education alongside their hearing peers, giving them a chance to become full and productive members of their communities and families.

How we help:

In Malawi typical class sizes are over 100 children, there are few educational resources and classroom furniture, and teachers have no training to deal with special needs learners. When these factors are combined with negative attitudes towards deaf children’s ability to learn and their worth within the family and community, it is no surprise that such children were dropping out of school and failing to succeed.

Specialist schools for the deaf only meet the needs of a few, are expensive to run and by their very nature can contribute to the long-term segregation of deaf and hearing children.

We work with these children, their families and carers, schools and local communities to challenge negative attitudes towards deafness.  By lifting the stigma and providing positive role models and success stories, resources and practical assistance and guidance for teachers and families, deaf children are for the first time, attaining at an academic level within the mainstream primary educations system.


  • Over 6,000 people have attended training workshops designed to challenge negative assumptions and provide positive role models and opportunities to learn;
  • The drop-out rate of these children from school has reduced from 90% to less than 5% in the areas where the programme is running;
  • Improved year on year academic attainment of these learners and progression to the next grade;
  • Pupils report greater involvement and enjoyment in school and family life, less stigmatism and a great desire to learn;
  • Teachers report increased enthusiasm in their work now they have the additional skills to teach all their pupils;
  • Successful parent groups are established and provide mutual support to parents of newly identified deaf children.  Income generating activities as diverse as a parents theatre group, fish farm and savings and loan scheme assist with the costs of their child’s education;
  • Community leaders actively seek out “hidden” deaf children and encourage families to send them to school;
  • Home visits to newly identified parents and families of deaf children to support their inclusion in education and encourage communication at home;
  • Ministry of Education officials have been represented at 100% of all teacher training sessions and provide support at local level to ensure the programme becomes sustainable.

Signal’s work is funded by grants from Comic Relief, trusts and individual donations and, in partnership with Sense Scotland, the Scottish Government.

Find out how you can get involved