Dennis Mumba, Sophie Kasonde-Ngandu, Joseph Mandyata


The academic performance of learners with hearing impairment has continued to decline far below their hearing counterparts. Comparison of academic performance in various subjects between pupils with hearing and non-hearing indicate that hearing impairment (HI), was lagging behind in schools. The study, therefore, explored perceptions held by teachers and pupils on factors affecting the academic performance of pupils with hearing HI in selected schools in Zambia. A qualitative approach supported by a case study research design was employed in the study. The sample size was 22 consisting of 10 pupils with HI, 10 teachers of pupils with HI and 2 head teachers. An expert purposive sampling technique was used to select participants. Data from pupils was collected using a focus group discussion guide (sign language used as a mode of communication) while data from head teachers and teachers were collected with aid of face-to-face interview guides. Qualitative data were analyzed thematically and results were presented descriptively. The study revealed that the use of sign language as a mode of communication significantly impaired the exchange of knowledge and skills at the classroom level. It was also found, that pupils with HI faced many challenges such as; a negative attitude towards their academic work, poor pre-academic readiness skills, insufficient resources, clouded school curriculum, inappropriate instructional methodologies and assesmmnet approaches that had affected their academic performance. It was further evident, that teachers were ill-prepared in sign language as a language of instruction to positively impact on academic and social life with HI pupils in schools. Although schools were seen to be making efforts to address the observed challenges, pupils with HI, continued to academically perform lowly. The study recommends, upgrading teachers’ competence in sign language, and providing an enriched learning environment, instructional resources as vehicles for improving academic success among pupils with HI in the study schools.


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hearing impairment, perception, sign language, Zambia

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