Former Gallaudet University scholar calls for support of deaf education in Kenya [2007/12/05]
Mr. Nixon Kakili of Kenya
Gallaudet University a liberal arts college in Washington, D.C., is renowned for its deaf and hearing-impaired education program. In view of the university’s preeminence in the field, The Nippon Foundation has established the World Deaf Leadership (WDL) Scholarship Fund there, to support qualified students from developing nations with hearing disabilities. Recently, Mr. Nixon Kakili, a Kenyan graduate of this program who is now active in his home country’s deaf community, visited Japan to call for support for the education of the deaf and hearing-impaired in Kenya.
Mr. Kakili had previously visited Japan in 2005, at the invitation of The Nippon Foundation, to observe the state of education here at schools for the deaf and other facilities. Upon graduating from Gallaudet, he then returned to Nairobi, Kenya, where today he oversees research activities at a government agency. He is also engaged in joint research with Akita University on the effect education has on the lives of deaf women. While the primary purpose of his visit to Japan this time was to do research, he again set aside time to visit The Nippon Foundation.
Mr. Kakili was originally raised in the Kenyan countryside, and expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to study at Gallaudet. “My life has changed significantly since receiving this scholarship. Without it, such an education would have remained beyond my reach.” According to Mr. Kakili, efforts to establish education for the hearing-impaired are lagging in Kenya, with virtually no opportunities for the deaf to pursue a higher education. Noting that the primary cause of this state of affairs is the Kenyan government’s lack of funds, Mr. Kakili emphasized the need for aid from Japan. (Photo: Mr. Kakili speaks at the Nippon Foundation during his 2005 visit to Japan)
At the same time, Mr. Kakili notes that the Kenya Deaf Association, charged with assisting deaf people in the nation, is not functioning adequately, commenting that “The strengthening of this association is a major issue.” Another problem that Kenya faces is the need for sign language to be officially recognized as the language of the hearing-impaired. Mr. Kakili intends to encourage educators at schools for the deaf to use Kenyan sign language.
On returning to Kenya, Mr. Kakili will follow up on a request from a Mongolian association for the deaf by launching an effort to strengthen the social infrastructure for the hearing-impaired in that country.