Gallaudet's English Language Institute (ELI) program is a college-preparatory program for deaf and hard of hearing students. It serves as a bridge to a post-secondary program at Gallaudet University. This means that students who train under this program qualify for entry into one of Gallaudet's many, and esteemed undergraduate programs. Our student is the first ever student from Swaziland to be enrolled in the ELI program. While other countries have strong support and funding for their students (Oman, for example, has 20 students in attendance), this is not the case for Swaziland.
Why is this important?
Although there is a way for Swazi citizen's to acquire a GED equivalent in Swaziland, this path has not yet been made accessible to Deaf people as tutoring sessions are not conducted in Sign Language. Moreover, the test and preparatory materials have not been modified to accommodate Deaf individuals. Because of systemic challenges, deaf students are not completing high school with the credits needed to enroll into one of Swaziland's many university programs. Through training this student, and future students, we can have enough qualified and trained deaf people to facilitate similar programs in Swaziland.
How is this sustainable?
Deaf Open World seeks to provide the necessary training for individuals to achieve the academic success and qualifications required to be employed to work at the schools for the Deaf or other government positions so that they can work to change the system from within. The goal is to train a cadre of qualified deaf youth, while also advocating for making education and opportunities more accessible to deaf children across Swaziland.
More funding would allow for more deaf people to be trained to help us advocate and rebuild a system that would give deaf youth equitable access to education and a voice in shaping their own future.