Sign Language Policies, Practices and Challenges in Zimbabwe’s Universities

Victor Mugari, Tawanda Matende


This study examines the teaching and learning of Sign Language in
Zimbabwe with special reference to the national language policy,
current practice and challenges pertaining to its implementation. The
focus is on establishing the medium of instruction that is being used to
teach deaf students and the challenges in interactions that are faced by
both students and lecturers. The data was collected from a sample of
five universities. The findings converge on lack of spelt out
implementation strategies by universities in promoting Sign Language
use and Sign Language instruction in educational institutions in line
with the expectations of statutes espoused in the national constitution.
The universities are yet to roll out Sign Language pedagogy and
promotion through access to education and respect of the basic
linguistic rights that are enjoyed by many of the citizenry in the
country. The selected universities are a representation of both public
and private institutions which would be expected to lead by example in
championing constitutionalism and promotion of local and marginalized
languages. The findings also noted the need for attitude changes by the
general populace if the education system has to embrace Sign Language
as both a medium of instruction and a language subject across
universities, addressing the spirit of inclusive education This study
conscientizes policy makers at both micro and macro levels to walk the
talk and work out strategies for the development of Sign Language.

Full Text:

 Subscribers Only



Alidou, H., Boly, A. Brocke-Utne, B. Diallo, Y. Heugh, K. & Wolff, H.

(2006). Optimizing Learning and Education in Africa-the

Language Factor: A Stock-taking Research on Mother Tongue

and Bilingual Education in sub-Saharan Africa. Association

for the Development of Education in Africa, Agency for

Technical Cooperation, German.

Bamgbose, A. (1991). Language and Nation: The Language Question

in sub-Saharan Africa. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University


Bamgbose, A. (2000). Language and Exclusion: The Consequences of

Language Policies in Africa. London: Transaction Publishers.

Bamgbose, A. (2003). Language and the African Renaissance:

Lessons from the South African Experience. In W. Ekkehard

(ed.) Tied Tongues. Berlin Hamburg Munster: Lit Velarg.

Beveridge, S. 1999. Special Education Needs in Schools. London.


Brueggermann, B. J. (2004) Literacy and Deaf People , Washington

DC: Gallaudet University.

Chivero, E. (2012). Language and Gender: A Sociolinguistic Analysis

of Zimbabwean Parliamentary Discourse. Unpublished PhD

Thesis, University of Zimbabwe. Constitution of Zimbabwe

Amendment No. 20 Act. Harare Printers and Refiners (1)

Deaf Zimbabwe Trust. 2013. Position Paper on the Situation

of Deaf Children in Zimbabwe Schools. A Focus on the

Implementation of Sign Language in Teaching Deaf

Children. (Unpublished).

Doyce, M. & Dye, L. (2002). Mainstreaming the Student who is Deaf

or Hard of Hearing. A Guide for Professionals, Teachers and

Parents. CCHAT Centre: San Diego.

Journal of Linguistics and Language in Education Volume 14, Number 2 (2020)|35

Dube, L. & Ncube, B. (2013). Language Policy and Linguistic Rights

in Post-colonial Zimbabwe: The Case of IsiNdebele. Greener

Journal of Social Sciences, 3(5): 249-255.

Education Act, Chapter 25:04, as Amended in (2006). Harare:

Government Printers.

Elliot, K. & Timulak, L. (2005). Descriptive and Interpretive

Approaches to Qualitative Researches. Oxford: Oxford

University Press.

Gora, R.B. (2013). Continuity and Change: Towards a National

Language Policyfor Education in Zimbabwe . [Online]

http://www.onlineresearchjournals. Org/JSS, accessed [2017

October 18].

Gotosa, K. Rwodzi, M. & Mhlanga, G. (2013). Language in

Education: A Critical Review of Current Proposals for

Official Mother Tongue Use in Zimbabwean Classrooms.

International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 3:


Gregory, S. (1998) Mathematics and Deaf Children, In S. Gregory, P.

Knight, W. McCracken, S. Powers & L. Watson (eds.). Issues

in Deaf Education, London: David Fulton Publishers.

Johnston, T. (1989). Auslan Dictionary: A Dictionary of Sign

Language of the Australian Community. Peterham: Deafness

Resources Australia.

Kadenge, M. & Mugari, V. (2015). The Current Politics of African

Languages inZimbabwe. Per Linguam, 31(2):21-34.

Kadenge, M. & Nkomo, D. (2011a). The Politics of the English

Language in Zimbabwe. Language Matters: Studies in the

Languages of Africa, 42(2): 248-162.

Kadenge, M. & Nkomo, D. (2011b). Language Policy, Translation and

LanguageDevelopment in Zimbabwe. Southern African

Linguistics and Applied Studies, 29(3): 259-274.

Lin, A. M. Y. (2005). Researchers Positionality. In F. M. Hult & D. C.

Johnson (eds.). Research Methods in Language Policy and

Planning: A Practical Guide . Wiley Blackwell. [Kindle


Matende, T. (2018). Language Use in the Legal Process: A Case of SL

in Zimbabwe . Unpublished Masters dissertation).

Department of linguistics, Faculty ofarts, University of


Ministry of Education (2001). Secretary's P.2 Circular . Harare:

Government Printers.

| Sign Language Policies, Practices and Challenges

Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (2002). Secretary's

Circular P1 of2002: Policy Regarding Language Teaching

and Learning. Harare: Government Printers.

Ministry of Education Sports and Culture (2002). Secretary's

Circular P3 of 2002: Curriculum Policy: Primary and

Secondary Schools. Policy Guidelines on the Teaching and

Learning of Local Languages in Primary and Secondary

Schools in Zimbabwe. Harare: Government Printers.

Morgan, R., Glaser, M. & Magongwa, L. (2016). Constructing and

Rolling out the New South African Sign Language (SASL)

Curriculum – Reflexive Critique. Per Linguam 2016,


Muchenje, F., Goronga, P. & Bondai, B. (2013). Zimbabwe's

Language Policy in Education and the Silenced Voices. A

Case of Nyanja / Chewa Speaking Pupils from Porta and

Kintyre Primary Schools in Zvimba. Academic Research

International , 4(2) [online] Pk,

accessed [2016, March 15].

Musengi, M. & Chireshe, R. (2012). Inclusion of Deaf Children in

Mainstream Rural Primary Schools in Zimbabwe: Challenges

and Opportunities. Studies of Tribes Tribals , 10(2): 107-116.

Musengi, M. Ndofirepi, A. & Shumba, A. (2012). Rethinking

Education of Deaf Children in Zimbabwe, Challenges and

Opportunities for Teacher Education. Journal of Deaf

Studies and Deaf Education, 18(1): 62-74.

Ndlovu, B. (2014). A Critical Appreciation of the Policy Position and

Practice Regarding the Teaching and Learning of Sign

Language in Primary School Education: The Case of Selected

Schools in Bulawayo. Unpublished Dissertation, University

of Zimbabwe.

Ndlovu, E. (2011). Mother Tongue Education in the Official Minority

of Languages of Zimbabwe: A Language Management

Critique . Unpublished Doctoral Thesis, University of Free


Nziramasanga, C. T. (1999). Report of the Presidential Commission

of Inquiry into Education and Training (CIET). Harare:

Government Printers.

Oyewumi, M. (2008). An Investigation on Inclusive in Structural

Practices and Learning of Students with Hearing

Impairments in Post-Secondary Schools. London: Boston

Houghton Mifflin.

Serpell, R. (2007). Cultural Challenges for the Design of Schooling in

the Urban Neighbourhoods of Baltimore City USA and Rural

Journal of Linguistics and Language in Education Volume 14, Number 2 (2020)|37

Neighbourhoods of Katete District, Zambia. Paper presented

at a symposium on the theme “Towards a School Curriculum

that is Locally and Culturally Appropriate.” Geneva,

Switzerland, 28-30 June 2007.

Shi, J. (2015). The Combination of Critical Discourse Analysis and

Ethnography in Language Policy and Planning Study: A

Literature Review. ARECLS, 12(3): 118-137.

Shohamy, E. (2006). Language Policy: Hidden Agendas and New

Approaches. London: Routledge.

Skutnabb-Kangas, T. & Dunbar, R. (2010). Indigenous Children's

Education as Linguistic Genocide and a Crime against

Humanity. A Global View. Galdu Cala Journal of Indigenous

Peoples Rights, 1: 1-3.

Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (2000). Linguistic Genocide in Education or

Worldwide Diversity and Human Rights? Mahwah, N.J: L.

Erlbaum Associates.

Taylor, S. (2004). Researching Educational Policy and Change in

“New Times”: Using Critical Discourse Analysis. Journal of

Educational Policy, 33(1): 47-62.

Tollefson, J. W. (2006). Critical Theory in Language Policy. In T.

Ricento (ed.). An Introduction to Language Policy: Theory

and Method. London: Blackwell Publishing.

Wauters, L. N., van Bon, W. H. J. & Tellings, A. E. J. M. (2006).

Reading Comprehension of Dutch Deaf Children, Reading

and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal , 19: 49-76.

Wood, D. Wood, H. Griffiths, A. & Howarth, I. (1996). Teaching and

Talking with Deaf Children: Chichester, United Kingdom:

John Wiley and Sons. South African Sign

Language. Accessed on 12/12/2020


  • There are currently no refbacks.

 [ISSN 0856-9965 (Print)]