This Wednesday 12th August is International Youth Day, a day when the contribution of young people to our world is highlighted, celebrated and further encouraged. However, throughout the world there are young people with disabilities who are facing barriers to participating fully in our societies and fulfilling their potential.
This September the international community will launch the Sustainable Development Goals. These goals will set out a vision for a world free of poverty and with fewer inequalities by 2030. Containing the pledge “that no one will be left behind”, they will give young people with disabilities cause to expect the type of change in our societies that will enable them to play their full part.
The goals will include the specific target to “ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training” for people with disabilities. At present in the countries where Signal works in Africa, and beyond, disabled children and young people are much less likely than others to go to or to complete school.
This includes deaf children and young people. They are hindered by the stigma that sadly surrounds them and by communication challenges. In schools, teachers with typically large classes often do not have the resources or understanding to support them. However, Signal is already working with its partners in Africa to help change this.
In Tanzania Signal supports the Vocational Training Centre for Deaf Learners (pictured above). This centre is giving deaf young people the chance to gain vital practical and academic skills and improve their lives. The students study for qualifications in tailoring or carpentry, they learn how to look after livestock and trade produce, and they develop their fluency in sign language as well as their self-confidence.
The importance of the centre is shown through the experience of recent graduate Lucas. Lucas became deaf when he was 17 years old and describes how he believed the hope for his future was totally lost. However, the centre managed to restore Lucas’s hope and he graduated in 2013 with a qualification in carpentry which has enabled him to win some jobs and earn some income.
Now Lucas dreams of becoming a teacher with his own carpentry workshop where he could train other young people, especially deaf young people, in carpentry skills.
This International Youth Day, let’s remember that no one should be left behind and that young people like Lucas should all be able to fulfil their potential. With your support, we will continue to work alongside our partners to help ensure that these ideas become a reality for deaf young people.