Hearing assessments in primary schools, Kathmandu, Nepal
Hard-of-hearing children suffer in silence and are often labelled as stupid because their condition is not visible. Children are unable to express their needs, and teachers are also often unaware that children have hearing difficulties. With a grant from the Equitable Trust we have partnered with SHRUTI to conduct a study to test the hearing of over 450 children in two primary schools in Kathmandu, give practical assistance to those with hearing difficulties and use the study findings to highlight this neglected issue.
Namuna School, Lalitpur district, in Kathmandu valley is one of the schools where the SHRUTI assessment programme has taken place. They tested 203 primary pupils our of whom ten children were found to be hard of hearing, ranging from mild, moderate to severe hearing loss, but 90% of all children had ear wax problems. These milder conditions were quickly followed up by doctors while children with more serious problem or greater hearing loss have been referred to specialists.
SHRUTI is taking a community approach by involving audiologists, doctors, teachers and parents to raise awareness of the level of children’s hearing and its potential impact on performance in school. They are conducting training courses for teachers and parents, distributing awareness materials and creating a disabled friendly environment in mainstream schools. For the first time teachers and parents are learning about a disability that is altogether invisible and are realising that the impact on their hard of hearing or deafened children and their education can be very serious indeed.
SHRUTI's report of the findings from the schools programme will be shared with education and health authorities, to raise awareness of the needs of hard of hearing and deafened children in the classroom and at home and hopefully to find ways to address these needs.
Main photo: Hearing assessments at Namuna School, Lalitpur district, Kathmandu Valley