People with hearing impairments are often underrepresented in the distribution of opportunities and socially marginalized in the African professional space. This is in part due to inadequate education about their rights to equal opportunities, access and exposure to the various opportunities that exist. Incorporating experiential training with classroom lessons gives this often marginalized population a holistic perspective about career opportunities and helps them make informed life decisions.
To help counter this phenomenon, Junior Achievement Mauritius implemented the “Notre Quartier” program with 28 beneficiaries from The Society for the Welfare of the Deaf in the Beau Bassin. The ‘Notre Quartier’ program is a contextualized version of JA’s ‘Our Community’ program. It aims to help young students identify opportunities for jobs and businesses in their immediate environment. The program was facilitated by the staff of JA Mauritius with assistance from interpreters and made use of visual aids and real-life experiences to help students better understand what was being taught.
The students learned about their economic and social environment. They got to visualize their environment from an economic and social point of view. The hands-on activities in the program enabled comprehension of lessons and the sessions, through lively interaction and discussions among the students.
After completing the sessions, the Society for the Welfare of the Deaf organized a tour of the community. During the tour, the students were able to identify the different services and facilities present within their community. They visited the community health center, a Post Office, as well as a bank, where they learned about the different services available there.
The students and facilitators then returned to the classroom for an evaluation session. This session helped students to relate what they had seen to what was being taught in the program. One student explained how the program has helped him to be more confident as he is now more conscious of the different economic activities going on around him and how he can make use of them.
According to the WHO, one of the main impacts of hearing loss is on the individual’s ability to communicate with others. WHO estimates that unaddressed hearing loss poses an annual global cost of US$ 750 billion. This includes health sector costs (excluding the cost of hearing devices), costs of educational support, loss of productivity, and societal costs. This is why programs like this are important to make education inclusive and comprehensive.