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One school is dedicated to education for children with hearing impairments

All children have the right to an education. For many children living with a hearing impairment this means extra support in the classroom and a teacher that can communicate using sign language.

More than 50 kilometres from the communities where ChildFund Cambodia works, one school has dedicated themselves to providing education to children who are hearing impaired. Two brothers, Bunna, age 15, and Lina, age 10, are just two young people that go to this school.

“I felt unhappy when my parents first brought me to stay here, and they went back home. My younger brother, Lina, cried that day. I tried to talk to and comfort him till he fell asleep. So, it was difficult at first but now that we have settled in, we are happier, and we learn better,” said Bunna. 

Bunna and Lina.
Bunna and Lina.

The school is one of very few where children who are hearing impaired can gain a higher education and access the support needed to achieve this. The school is run by the Cambodian Government and receives support from a cohort of not-for-profit organisations.

At the school, each child can access accommodation, food and any supplies needed for school. The school is free so that any child can attend, no matter their socio-economic background.

One project staff member working at a local partner organisation Khmer NGO for Education (KHEN), Mr Sophat is passionate about this school. He believes that all children, regardless of whether they live with a hearing impairment or other disability, should be able to access an education. Mr. Sophat said: “Parents do not want to send their deaf child to that particular school because they are concerned for their child’s well-being while they are apart, and they knew nothing about the school.”

To help the parents understand how the school functions, ChildFund and KHEN ran school tours for them. Then they could see where their child would live, and it helped them build trust in the school. The parents were more confident that their child would be safe and cared for while at the school.

Local authorities also accompanied the group to support the tour, answer any questions and encourage them to send their hearing impaired children to gain an education at the school. The school now has six children with hearing impairments ranging in age from six to 14.

“In contrast to my previous school, where I struggled to understand what the teacher was saying, my teacher here has been tremendously encouraging,” said Bunna.

The brothers are also excited about making new friends. “I feel very happy that I can now make more friends. Earlier, I used to become quite stressed out when I couldn’t comprehend what people were saying. I have a lot of friends here, and we get along great and support one another in class. Indeed, all my pals are deaf, but we can still communicate to one another and have fun playing together.”

When the children go home on weekends or for school holidays, they keep in touch through Facebook Messenger, FaceTime and other online platforms.

“The project gives deaf children in my community a fresh future, enabling them to communicate, learn, and avoid exclusion not like older deaf before ChildFund arrived,” said Ms. Sareth, one local community leader.

This school is a part of the Disability Empowerment and Education project aims to provide children with all types of disabilities – physical or intellectual – with basic children rights. This means access to health care, education, and the opportunity to contribute to their community.

Learn more about how ChildFund Cambodia is working with local communities and partners to make sure that children living with hearing impairment and other disabilities can access an education and have a chance at a brighter future.

You can also help to support education for hearing impaired children by signing up to donate monthly to ChildFund. With your help, many more children will be supported to go to school and to complete their education. That includes girls, children with disabilities, and children from ethnic minorities.

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