WINDHOEK, June 9 — Nineteen students enrolled for a Diploma in Sign Language Interpreting (DSL) at the Namibian College of Open Learning (NAMCOL) received financial support from Bank Windhoek last week. NAMCOL recently introduced the Diploma in Sign Language Interpreting, a first of its kind in Namibia since previous students had to do this qualification in South Africa.
NAMCOL’s Programme Developer, Imogene Hilukiluah, said the support came at the right time as many of the participating students are from disadvantaged communities and are unemployed. “There are very few qualified sign language interpreters in Namibia. However, there is a high demand for the services of such professionals. The students have an interest and passion for this field either from having a relative with a hearing disability or simply realising the need in this country,” she said.
As for job opportunities, Hilukiluah said sign language interpreting could create employment for Namibian youth who can offer these services to corporate institutions and at national events.
Bank Windhoek’s Head of People Development, Louretta Louw, said that one of Bank Windhoek’s key strategic objectives is diversity and inclusivity as a proud Namibian Bank. She highlighted that these are two related concepts, but they are far from interchangeable. “Diversity is about representation or the make-up of an entity. Inclusion is about how well the contributions, presence, and perspectives of different groups of people are valued and integrated into an environment,” said Louw. “Based on this, we are committed to supporting these concepts as an organisation.”
Through a sign language interpreter, one of the students, Beata Armas, who graduated with a Diploma in sign language, encouraged NAMCOL and Bank Windhoek to keep on supporting her fellow students. Hilukiluah echoed Armas’ sentiments and emphasised that the financial support meant a lot to the students.
“We are also excited with the proposed initiative that Bank Windhoek will soon train frontline staff members such as tellers with basic sign language knowledge. That shows the Bank’s seriousness in being inclusive,” she said.
Hilukiluah concluded by thanking Bank Windhoek, saying that the students can now focus on their studies and not worry about the financial part as they embark on their studies.
NAMCOL is a statutory institution established through an Act of Parliament No.1 of 1997 to contribute to Namibia’s social and economic development by upgrading the educational levels of adults and out-of-school youth.
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