Introduction / History There are about 1800 to 2500 Malagasy who use sign language learned at school. FLM (Malagasy Lutheran church) who started the schools for the Deaf has seven schools around the country; there is one private school and one other center, in total about 650 Deaf children in these schools at the moment. It is estimated that 200,000 of Madagascar's population is Deaf. The schooled ones are Christian and often their families are reached through them.
At the moment there is big talk and attempts made towards "inclusive" education, including Deaf children along with hearing children in school. The idea is driven by those who sponsor the schools rather than by the Deaf people themselves. The idea has some merit, but the drawbacks are huge since only a very small percentage of the Deaf ever really succeed in that environment. Usually they are much more successful when surrounded by other Deaf children and educated using Madagascar Sign Language instead of having to learn Malagasy and to lip read that language which they have never and will never hear spoken.
About 1500 are literate at the primary level. But only 25 reached the secondary level, ten reached high school and only five earned the diploma needed to continue study at the University—but till now no Deaf students go there due to a lack of interpreters.
Most of them earn the equivalent of one dollar per day. Their job options are limited. Many work in carpentry, selling, hair dressing, farming, child care, fishing a few are teachers in the Deaf schools.
They face problems every day because they are not accepted as a people who can do things in the society. They are a minority of course and people think the Deaf are stupid and do not need education.
Some parents believe that having a Deaf child is punishment from God so they are ashamed. Some parents are divorced on account of having a Deaf child. They keep the child at home and even tie them up.
As a result most of them are brought up by an uncle or aunt or by grandparents but they do not send them to school. They just give them food and have them look after animals in the field. Some are overworked at home.