An exploratory study of the employment prospects of Deaf individuals in Zimbabwe

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The purpose of this research was to explore the employment prospects for Deaf individuals in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is known to have one of the highest numbers of educated people in Africa. However, this does not include the deaf people who are often informally employed because of the poor quality of education afforded to them. The research explored the employment prospects for Deaf individuals using a quality research design to understand their experiences in this context. Twenty participants were purposefully selected in two cities, namely Bulawayo and Gweru. They had completed their secondary level of education and sat for the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) ordinary level exams which are Zimbabwe's national exams, while others sat for Higher Education Examination Council (HEXCO). The findings revealed limitations and inconsistencies in the education process, which restricted their progress for further studies as well as future employment prospects. These limitations include that Deaf learners are required to write exams that are separate from other hearing learners in terms of content. Educators do not take into consideration the Deaf leaners' limited comprehension of the English language. There is a lack of knowledge of sign language by educators and limited exposure to training to get the knowledge. These factors affected their work prospects as they were more likely to end up working in the informal sector, where they also faced oppression and exclusion based on their unique mode of communication. They also experienced the latter when accessing public services like hospitals. The challenges they face leave them disempowered, excluded and incapable of personal and social development. The research offers knowledge on issues that need to be addressed in order to foster empowerment amongst the deaf individuals as social development is for the Deaf too.