Currently, we have 70 students at the Deaf Unit in Cairo. 55 of them board at the school during the week, but go home on the weekends. 15 of them stay at the school during the school year, going home only during long breaks, as they are from outside of Cairo, usually Upper Egypt. We also currently serve 22 students in our Community Based Rehabilitation program in Luxor, helping them gain an education.
We strive to provide an all-encompassing bilingual education; teaching the children Egyptian Sign Language, Arabic and English reading and writing, mathematics, science, physical education, computer and pre-vocational training classes. We also provide them with access to our newly re-opened audiology clinic and speech therapy classes.
As an employer, we strive to hire teachers and staff members who are willing to build relationships with and mentor the children and their families. We currently have seven deaf teachers, eight hearing teachers, four deaf house mothers who also teach, three full time administration staff and five women who support us through kitchen and cleaning work.
At the end of their training, the children are provided with a literacy certificate and placement into local government-run schools for the deaf. Our goal is to train students, especially those from Upper Egypt, who are willing to work in schools to improve the quality of education for the deaf in Egypt, especially in our established Community Based Rehabilitation programs.
Our students come from both Muslim and Christian homes and often are from families where both parents and other siblings are hearing. This situation frequently leads to misunderstanding in the family. Therefore, at the Deaf Unit we seek to provide opportunities for better communication between deaf and hearing people. We offer classes once a week to the parents and people within the local community. The classes teach sign language, help educate them on incorrect stereotypes of the deaf, and give them the opportunity to build connections with other families that have deaf children.
The children are given three full meals a day, as well as a safe place to sleep and learn. They are taught the government curriculum from year 1-6, after which they enter the local schools. Although they leave the Deaf Unit for these schools, many of the students will return in the afternoons to the Deaf Unit to help with the younger children, and to have extra lessons or to get help with their studies.
This resource is invaluable in the lives of these children. They are nurtured and learn in an environment where they have teachers and staff who genuinely care about their well being. A large part of what the Deaf Unit strives to do is prepare the children for living outside the deaf community. They are provided with opportunities to interact with hearing children and adults, an opportunity that most deaf children do not have in a society that does not respect the disabled. Living and learning in the environment provided by the Deaf Unit gives them the chance to gain confidence and self-esteem and gives them a strong basis for learning which will increase their ability to live independently.