Gender and Deafness in Education of the Deaf in Ethiopia: Problems, Gender Disparities and Possible Solutions at Alpha and Mekanissa Special Schools for the Deaf.
Education is the basis for development and it is a well- established fact that education plays a major role in enhancing the status of an individual. For most women to change their lower status in Ethiopian society, access and success to education is a precondition. People with disabilities in general and deaf girls in particular face serious problems throughout the country. As a result, the majorities become school dropouts and engage themselves in the street corners, become victims of rape, unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/ AIDS (Amare et al., 2001). Therefore, studying problems, gender disparities and possible solutions to the problems of deaf students with regard to schools, homes and the community is crucial. Gender, deafness and harassment are the core concepts in this work. The purpose of the study is to investigate the problems, gender disparities and possible solutions to problems of deaf students. With the misconceptions and negative attitudes of parents of deaf children which were identified during my master’s study, deaf girls have very limited access and success to education (e.g. a 21 years old dda1eaf woman in a pre- school). This study goes in- depth to the problems, gender disparities and possible solutions to problems of deaf students in the schools, at home and in the community using Sen’s Capability Theory and Bronfenbrenner’s Ecosystemic Theory as a theoretical framework. In doing so, questionnaires with open- and close-ended items, interviews and focus group discussions are the main instruments of data collection. Secondary data is also consulted. The research triangulated the data collected through the different instruments. Video camera is also used for recording purpose. Qualitative and quantitative methods (Mixed methods (MM) research approach) of data analysis are employed. Both deaf male and female second cycle students at Alpha (ASSD) and Mekanissa (MSSD) Special Schools for the Deaf are the main sources of data. The data collected are analyzed using t- test and chi- square test as well as qualitatively by applying MM research approach as mentioned above. Despite the fact that the data analysis for ASSD and MSSD was done separately, thinking that the hearing students coenrolled (reverse integration in German, ‘umgekehrte Integration’) at MSSD would have effect on the results, unanticipated findings were found. The study shows that deaf students have problems in the above specified settings, gender disparity exists among deaf students and female deaf students faced different types of harassment/ violence which affected their school performance. Moreover, the perceived solutions to their problems are also investigated which are used to avoid, ameliorate or minimize the problems of deaf students in general and that of deaf girls in particular and hence they can get longlasting access and success to education. Therefore, these students eventually become productive citizens rather than life- long burdens to the country in general and to their families in particular since education plays a pivotal role in human development.