The charity supports two schools for the deaf, one in Mandalay and one in Yangon. To understand the schools for the deaf it is important to understand that none of the “teachers” are qualified to teach. They are trained in social care, reflecting the current situation where deaf children come under the Ministry for Social Care and Welfare. They are required to deliver the National Curriculum including English, although many staff are not conversant in English. This visit was made up of three Teachers of the Deaf, two of whom had additional training in Audiology. Two of the party are also Trustees of the charity Mandalay.
Major changes and loss of staff mean that the school is under immense pressure. However, our meeting with the Divisional lead for Social Care and Welfare in Mandalay was very positive; as a past head of the school who was trained in Japan she was informed and interested. She asked if the team could make suggestions about the technical needs of the school and consider the use or not of the equipment in the school.
Staff were largely new and had no training or understanding of deafness. Those that had been trained were initially a little restrained but gained a sense of confidence and purpose as they were drawn into the programme. It was made absolutely clear that all teachers had a key role in using, managing and supporting children wearing and using hearing aids. 49 families were able to attend and a further 15 families will be given hearing aid care kits and training by staff. In Yangon 40 parents, 18 teachers, including 2 Deaf teachers, were trained and given care kits. All were encouraged to use the hearing aids all day at home and school. Examples of everyday activities and games were shared, together with training on language development.
There were problems with lost and broken aids but as staff in Mandalay were untrained and parents had no hearing aid care kits this was perhaps not too surprising. We trained 49 families and all teaching staff to use the hearing aid care kits, including keeping batteries dry and re-tubing. One mother had travelled 9 hours by train from a conflict area to attend the training. Staff were keen to learn and grew in confidence and in their own ability to actively manage amplification. Children in the kindergarten were unaided as they were not in school at the last visit. Each child was given a session on the Auditory Training Unit and comfortable listening levels were calculated for each child.
It is hoped all these children will be fitted with hearing aids on our next visit. Ear mould impressions were taken for 15 children and moulds were made locally by Autron. These were of a very good standard with a quick turnaround. We were able to arrange a similar service in Yangon but additionally, a member of staff from the hospital will visit monthly and take earmould impressions or remove wax. By the end of the visit very positive relationships had been built with the staff, who were keen to promote active use of aids and voice in classrooms. We provided a class by class file of hearing aids users and cross-matched this with a box file to help staff keep track of problems, positive developments and have a school overview of hearing aid usage.
There is a small Newborn Hearing Screening programme in Yangon – Prof Khin Lla Lla and Dr Tin Maung Win lead this. Dr Tin arranged for parents of pre-school children to attend and 29 families attended and were trained to use the hearing aid care kits and were actively encouraged to use aids in all waking hours. We noted that there was a positive increase not only in children wearing aids and arriving from home using aids but also in the children using their voices. Yangon school for the deaf has made real strides in their understanding of amplification, how to actively manage it and make positive use of hearing aids.
The current pandemic and change in circumstances in Mynamar present new challenges. We will seek to ensure all deaf children are given the best chances to develop their potential.
Please help us provide the vital support that is needed for these children by DONATING HERE.