In contemporary times, the relevance of an improved vocational training in the social, economic and political development of persons with or without disabilities cannot be overemphasized. In view of this, every nation should place emphasis on vocational training, especially those with hearing impairment because of the nature of their disability. Globally, vocational training empowers individuals to be independent, self-confident and productive. Aboagye (1999) stated that, it is impossible to think of a nation’s development without the development of human resources or skilled training as of immense importance in any effort towards national development. Some countries such as, Russia and Japan have become industrial giants through the development of vocational training or skilled training.
Aboagye (1999) reiterated that, in Ghana, for example, past efforts envisaged towards educational programmes through vocational training was to meet the development needs of the country. Since 1957, Government of Ghana and other stakeholders have made efforts to improve vocational education systems by establishing more Polytechnics, Teacher Training Colleges, Senior Secondary/Technical Schools and Basic Schools Vocational training all over the country. However, the effort made towards vocational education for persons with hearing impairment have not been sufficient. The insufficiencies of establishing more vocational training centres at the basic school level have been attributed to lack of facilities such as comprehensive curriculum, dormitories, teachers, funding, tools and equipment among others.
Academically, students with hearing impairment in schools for the Deaf in the country lag behind their non-disabled peers. They are therefore not able to compete favourably for opportunities to pursue higher education. In practice, very few individuals with hearing impairment gain admissions to higher levels of education as compared with non- disabled individuals in the country. In early 2012, according to report by the Ministry of Education, stressed that, small percentage of graduates with hearing impairment from schools for the deaf successfully gain admission to Senior High Schools, Colleges of Education, Polytechnics and Universities. The consequence is that, few individuals with hearing impairment have requisite qualification to gain meaningful employment.
However, appropriate vocational education designed and implemented in schools and communities can equip students with skills that would enable them to be gainfully employed in future. Thus, vocational education serves as training programmes designed in schools and communities to equip individuals with job-related skills that prepare individuals to be employed in the future. Durojaiye (1996) emphasized that, any vocational training programme provided to the hearing impaired must focus on equipping trainees adequately with skills that would empower them to be gainfully employed.
The Demonstration School for the Deaf in Mampong-Akwapim is one of the basic schools in Ghana, providing vocational education for the hearing impaired. Presently, the vocational training centre in the school caters for graduates who have interest in vocational programmes. Students admitted to the vocational training centre of the Demonstration School for the Deaf are trained to acquire various skills in hairdressing, catering, dressmaking, batik tie and dye, alongside English, Mathematics and Sign Language. The researcher, who is a teacher in the school, observed that, some students from Demonstration School for the Deaf, sometimes end-up becoming dependent on parents or engaging themselves in menial jobs such as petty trading, house-helps, shoe-making, carrier boys/girls (Kayaye), while others beg for alms in the streets, shops, buses, schools and churches in Accra, Kumasi and other towns and surrounding communities. The above situations, invariably affect the school’s records, students’ personality, teachers’ image, parents’ ego, society and the nation as a whole.
In view of the above and many others, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)(2001) and International Labour Organization (ILO) (2001) recommendations stressed that, education and training must form a central pillar to every vocational programme to help trainees to become more employable in the rapid competitive market. Furthermore, Gadagbui (1998) highlighted that, there is the urgency to make vocational training provisions for persons with disabilities. Thus, providing vocational training must serve as compliment and to general education, and considered as one of the cardinal needs for basic level students with hearing impairment.
Based on the views above, the researcher found it necessary to research into vocational training programmes for the basic level graduates of Demonstration School for Deaf, so that, students with hearing impairment can be prepared to be functional and independent in the competitive market after school.
Statement of the problem
Vocational training for all categories of students with disabilities, especially those with hearing impairment is to provide them with skills for their independent living after school. However, practical components of the vocational programmes in the curriculum of the school have not been defined. The Demonstration School for the Deaf faces challenges in acquiring the needed resources for effective teaching of vocational programmes. Finally, there is no effective provision made towards the sustenance of vocational programmes to meet the needs of students in the school, consequently, students are not adequately prepared to become productive after training.
Purpose of the study
The purpose of the study was to examine ways in which vocational programmes for individuals with hearing impairment at Demonstration School for the deaf, Mampong-Akwapim can be improved to enhance their practical skills acquisition for employment and independent living.
Objectives of the study
The objectives of the study are to:
· Find out teachers’ views toward vocational students with hearing impairment in the Demonstration School for the Deaf at Mampong-Akwapim.
· Discuss how the vocational programmes of the school can be improved for the students.
· Discuss challenges the school face in terms of resource acquisition and effective teaching of vocational programmes in the school.
· Examine how the programme can be sustained for students of the Demonstration school for the deaf.
The following questions were raised to guide the data collection process.
1. What are teachers’ views toward vocational students with hearing impairment in the Demonstration school for the deaf, Mampong- Akwapim?
2. How can the school and other stakeholders help to build an enriched vocational programme for the students to compete in the labour market?
3. What are the challenges that impede students’ transition for better jobs in the society?
4. What provisions are needed to sustain vocational programmes for students with deafness?
Significance of the study
The results of the study reveals challenges the School for the Deaf, face in providing appropriate vocational programmes for students with hearing impairments to enable them become gainfully employed in the competitive market. This would enable the Ghana Education Service to provide appropriate support to the school to enhance teaching of vocational programmes to the students. The results of the study would help Special Schools for the deaf in the country to ensure that vocational programmes are designed to benefit individuals with hearing impairment. Also, the results of the study would enable policy makers to improve upon the infrastructure facilities, and to provide sufficient funding necessary to keep and offer adequate vocational training for the hearing impaired. The results would further serve as a useful material for researchers in the area of vocational training for persons with hearing impairment.
Delimitation of the study
Even though there are many special schools for the deaf in Ghana, the study focused on only Demonstration School for the Deaf, Mampong- Akwapim, in the Eastern Region of Ghana. The study focused on the vocational subjects, and for the purposes of this study, the emphasis presently was based on only four (4) vocations such as catering, dressmaking, batik-tie and dye, and hairdressing.
There are very limited studies on this topic within the Ghanaian context. Also, accessing information from teachers was more difficult. Finally, printing cost, transportation, time frame, and effort made by the researcher had direct effect on the study.
Definition of terms
· Communication: The activity or process of expressing ideas and feelings or giving people information.
· Curriculum: Considered to be everything that transpires in an educational plan or includes the plans for educational programmes.
· Disability: Any restriction or lack of ability to perform any activity in the manner or within the range considered normal of human beings.
· Placement services: Helping students to find suitable jobs and also assisting employers to recruit suitable applicants to fill vacant posts.
· Job opportunities: The chance of one practicing a vocation with the skills acquired. An employment through which an individual earns a living.
· Labour market: It refers to the existence of physical and mental resource of individual’s in the creation of wealth to the system of the exchange of goods and services
· Normal: Individuals who have no physical or sensory disability and who can perform any activity within or above average.
· Hearing impairment: Is a generic term indicating a hearing loss which includes the deaf and hard - of hearing ranging from mild (25+decibel), moderate (40-55decibel) moderately severe (56-70decibel) severe (71-90decibel) and profound (91+decibel) (Hallahan & Kauffman 2003).
· Transition: It is the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another. For instance transition from school to work.
· Work/trade/job/career/vocation: Broad concepts that are used interchangeably that refers to actions that lead to person’s self-sufficiency the welfare of one’s household and benefit of society.
· Vocational education/skill-training: Equipping persons with necessary skills which will enable them to be gainfully employed and live on their own after training, mostly given to anybody in a trade within the school setting or workshops.
Structure or organization of research
This study is organized into five (5) chapters. The chapter one(1) dealt with the introduction, which consist of the background of the study, statement of the problem, purposes of the study, objectives of the study, significance of the study, research questions, delimitation, limitation and structure of the study. The chapter two (2) covers review of related literature, while chapter three (3) discussed the methods and techniques that were adopted to collect and analyse the data. Chapter four (4) examined the data collection, analysis of finding or results and discussion of results.
Finally, chapter five (5) dealt with summary of the study, conclusion and recommendations as well as future implications of the study.
References and Appendices follow at the end of chapter five (5).