$11 million boost for sign language in schools

Last updated 11:46 26/08/2014
Hekia Parata
Education Minister Hekia Parata

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One of the country's official languages is getting an $11 million boost to support the almost 2000 deaf children in New Zealand schools.

Education minister Hekia Parata has announced funding over the next four years would go towards sign language programmes, including First Signs - a programme that involves facilitators working with the families of newly identified deaf children.

There would also be more support provided for schools including extra sign language tutors.

There are currently about 400 deaf children under 5 years old and another 1400 children aged between 5 and 18 years old.

An advisory group including Deaf Aotearoa, members of the deaf community, deaf educators and other principals and board of trustee members worked alongside the Ministry of Education to target the funding.

"For most students this will be the first time they have had regular access to sign language tutors,'' Parata said.

"It will also help teachers and teacher's aides improve their sign language skills and provide more support to deaf students in the classroom.''

The investment is designed to "encourage a more bilingual New Zealand'' and support deaf students to "attain the same levels of educational achievement as their peers'', Parata said.

Some of the funding would also be used to develop more learning resources for deaf children, both in the classroom and online.

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