March 1, 2021

Inclusive Education and Sign Language Specialist Advocates for Inclusion

Inclusive Education and Sign Language Specialist, Bettie Wisiki Kalitera, says she has a passion to see children with disabilities, especially the deaf, are given access to education equal to that of others and giving teachers practical skills to support those children.

Kalitera noted with a great concern that the percentage of teachers fluent in Sign Language is very small as compared to the demand by learners saying this is a big challenge of making children with disabilities particularly the deaf, feels that they are excluded in the society they are living because of the status of their disability.

She also lamented that Malawi has a few trained and qualified Sign Language interpreters, a lot of deaf people are left unattended to, resulting to no service on the ground describing this as injustice which demands urgent attention by the Government of Malawi.

Speaking in an interview, Kalitera, is urging government to train and recruit Sign Language interpreters and also to ensure that each and every teacher gain skills of reading and writing Braille and be fluent in Sign Language upon graduating at Teacher Training Colleges to enable them handle learners with disabilities in schools, hence making inclusive education a reality on the ground.

Bettie has been meeting people of the deaf in various conferences for inclusiveness

Kalitera said it is painful to see deaf people being discriminated against because of language barrier and to see unqualified people parading as professional interpreters, lamenting that this is a profession that need to be valued and providing the Deaf Community with well trained and skillful interpreters, is a basic human right that is provided for in the Republican constitution.

She is also appealing to government to pump in more resources to train professional Sign Language interpreters to be deployed in courts, hospitals, schools, police stations, and many other public places where deaf people go to seek for various services inorder to have an inclusive society for all to participate in the development of the country.

Bettie Wisiki Kalitera is a 2010 Catholic University of Malawi graduate with a Bachelor of Special Needs Education Degree. She grew up in a community surrounded by deaf people where her passion to become a Malawian Sign Language interpreter developed and she later trained as an interpreter trainer in Sign Language between 2000 and 2007 respectively by Deaf Action, a Scotland based organization through the Malawi National Association of the Deaf [MANAD].

Kalitera got a Chevening Scholarship to study Master’s in Special Needs and Inclusive Education where she graduated with a Distinction from the University of Bristol, United Kingdom [2015-2016], and after coming back to Malawi, she continued to work as a Lecturer in Special Needs Education at the Catholic University of Malawi from 2010 to 2018 before she left for a USAID project in 2018 on National Reading Program [NRP] called YESA which was implemented by Abt Associates, and she was working as the Community Mobilization and Engagement Specialist.

Bettie Wisiki Kalitera interpreting

Bettie later, joined another USAID project under the National Reading Program [NRP] called Reading for ALL Malawi [REFAM] implemented by Juarez and Associates where she is currently working as an Education Specialist on Reading and Disability project focusing on ensuring that children with disabilities are able to read at the right level.

……”The project also support teachers on how to effectively teach learners who are deaf, blind and those with learning disabilities benefit from NRP efforts just like other learners without disabilities do,’’…..said Kalitera.

Currently, Bettie Wisiki Kalitera, is the only Sign Language Interpreter Trainer for Malawi since 2007 after she completed her training in Scotland and is working on voluntary basis with the Malawi National Association of the Deaf [MANAD], and some of her accomplishments are the courses in Sign Language that she helped to introduce whilst at the Catholic University of Malawi.

Her dream is to see every Malawian able to sign which will create a communication barrier free society for the Deaf in Malawi….’’Together We can……no one should be left behind–let’s create a Malawi for everyone.’’

By Vincent Gunde

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