Mobilising support example:
Pay our teachers

A visit to the authorities
It's difficult to choose the right word
Teacher and pupil in action
OrganisationSilent Work West Africa


Silent Work has been instrumental in the promotion of education for deaf children in Mauritania. Formerly the general idea was that children who are unable to communicate like hearing people are also unable to go to school. Thanks to the co-operation between Silent Work and the government of Mauritania this perception is now gradually changing. The first deaf teachers are even being paid from the government's educational budget.

Problem analysis

Many people in Mauritania believe that you cannot communicate with deaf people and that they are therefore unable to learn anything. Until recently most deaf children did not go to school.

Solution analysis

1. To demonstrate that deaf children can go to school and learn like any other child, despite their deafness.
2. To create educational possibilities for deaf children.
3. To develop suitable teaching methods for deaf children.

Stakeholder analysis

Which stakeholders (NGO’s, government, private sector) did you identify as allies and how did you involve them?
Government (various ministries), parents of deaf children, general public.

Which stakeholders did you identify as opponents and why were they opposed?
Ministries were not opposed to the schooling of deaf people, but considered it as a social project instead of education. It took quite a bit of convincing, mostly during visits to report and show the results, to get this form of special education included in the Ministry of Education´s plans and budget.

How did you involve your beneficiaries in the stakeholder analysis/campaign?
Education for deaf children is always started at the request of the community and with their complete involvement.

Short description of the organisation implementing the action/campaign

The aim of Silent Work Foundation West Africa is to support the forgotten children of Africa. Silent Work supports small scale local initiatives in the following dominions: safety, hygienic drinking water, nutrition (agriculture, cattle-breeding and fishery), medical support, education and housing. Trauma counselling is also supported. Where possible the foundation supports sustainable projects where youngsters will receive professional training. The care for safety and a better future for deaf and/or disabled children is an important priority. The Silent Work Foundation is independent and unattached to any specific ideology or religion. The foundation has been recognised and registered as an NGO by the government. Silent Work West Africa works in close co-operation with the Dutch Silent Work Foundation, which helps raise the necessary funds for projects in Mauritania, Rwanda and Senegal.

Action period
2005-2015 (and ongoing)

1. To create educational possibilities for deaf children.
2. To make the government realise that the education of the deaf should be considered as education, not as a social cause.
3. To improve the position of deaf people in Mauritania.

Action results
There are 5 small primary schools for deaf children, in different regions of Mauritania. A Vocational Training Centre for deaf youngsters without preliminary education has also been started.

30 teachers have been trained, partly from Senegal and Mali; some of them are deaf .

Silent Work has developed a method called Langue Colorée (Coloured Language) to teach deaf children reading and writing. This method has been fully adapted to the country´s culture and religion.

2 DVD´s with the American and Arab Sign Language have been produced. Each DVD has 1000 words in sign language. Each DVD is a dictionary of sign language realised.

Description of preparatory activities
1. To establish contact with the various ministries involved in the care of deaf people and make appointments for a visit.
2. Thinking of ways to inform the general public about the possibilities of deaf children.
3. Investigate regional requests to start a school for the deaf.

Description of implementation
1. Silent Work used the first visits to the authorities to clear up misunderstandings about deafness and convince them that the only thing deaf children cannot do is to hear. And that they therefore have a right to education, just like other children. In order to demonstrate the viability of their educational model, Silent Work paid for all expenses (building and equipment of schools, teaching materials, salaries of teachers) for a number of years.
2. Silent Work decided to show the abilities of deaf people wherever possible. A TV interview with a deaf young man through a sign language interpreter helped very much.
3. Permission was asked and obtained to build and equip the school, hire and train the teachers.

Follow up
Each year visits are being made to the various ministries involved to report on the progress made that year and to show pictures of the results so far.

Read moreBack to overview