Teachers from Special School No.29 held a press conference on April 4 to contain a growing scandal over complaints about assault and battery against students.
According to teachers and some students’ parents, local media medee.mn indicated that teachers physically abuse students, drink alcohol within school grounds, sexually assault female students, and that young teachers have sex within school grounds while reporting a protest by senior students with hearing impairment on March 27 to stand upfor their rights to equal access to schooling. Teachers and parents denied all these accusations and announced that they would file a lawsuit against medee.mn for unethical business practices.
Lawyer G.Batbayarstated, “The things medee.mn website published on April 1 didn’t happen at all. This school doesn’t allow such criminal offenses to occur. The journalist took an interview from a disabled person without civil legal capability as specified in Article 18 in the Civil Code and spread it throughout the country. Hence, (teachers) have decided to take legal action against her for defamation.”
Journalist B.Urantsetseg who wrote the article defended herself by playing the voice recording she took for her article during the press conference. The recording stated, “There are two or three young male teachers who make sexual advances such as caressing the body during breaks”.
After hearing the recording, school training manager D.Alimaa said, “We shouldn’t believe what this recording says. We need to see a video of the person making these accusations through sign language.”
However, teachers couldn’t prove that theseaccusations werefabricated. The teacher who interpreted for the deaf student who communicated through sign language refused to join the press conference.
The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science hasn’t made an announcement about the case as necessary investigations are underway.
Reportedly, there are 140 male students and 200 female students living at Special SchoolNo.29’s dormitory. As soon as the scandal broke out, teachers decided to defend themselves instead of fact-checking rumors.
DEAF STUDENTS DEMAND A BETTER EDUCATION
Junior and senior students at Special School No.29 staged a walk out on March 27, and through a protest held outside of the school, they demanded that all classes be taught in sign language for students with hearing impairments.
The young protesters with speech and hearing impairments hope to be heard in their fight for the right to equal access to education, as specified in the Constitution. They held signs reading: “Carry out all classes in sign language”, “We can’t understand our lessons”, and “You’re violating our rights to an education”.
Some parents and graduates of Special School No. 29 joined the protest later in the afternoon. One protester said that the entire school body had planned to demonstrate, but some teachers locked students inside classrooms to prevent them from joining their classmates. Students locked inside expressed their frustration with signed statements of protests that could be read from classroom windows.
Many students said that the sign language skills of their teachers were poor, and that teachers ignore children who approach them for help to address bullying and exploitation.
When asked about these problems, school director B.Batsaikhan said, “We have no choice but to dismiss senior teachers when they’ve reached the retirement age. We receive young teachers, and we hire some of them in accordance with regulations and train them for a year. Students claim that only one teacher is able to communicate in sign language, but it’s not like that. Our school has 64 teachers. They all know sign language to some extent. We will meet with junior and senior students and take immediate action.”
Students and supporters of the protest spoke to the media about conditions at the school and the reasons for the walk out:
Kh.Uyanga, mother of a deaf student: Children are often bullied, exploited, and beaten
“Young teachers don’t know sign language. My son told me that he’s unable to do his homework because he can’t understand what his teachers are saying. When I meet with the teachers, they scold him for lying. Since each class has around 10 students, I think it’s fully possible for a teacher to work closely with every child. My son can’t fully express himself. I approached the school board about my child getting bullied, exploited, and even beaten, but they do nothing.”
B.Buyan-Orshikh, a 12th grader at Special School No. 29: We might not be able to hear, but we can see
“We want classes to be taught in sign language. Teachers always get angry at us and keep teaching the same thing over and over again. We’ve raised this issue before, but stopped complaining because our teachers said that they understood it. We’re not asking for teachers to pity us or care for us. We just want them to improve their sign language skills.
“We want to be educated in the same way and at the same level as healthy children. If they suffer to learn, we want to suffer as well. We might not be able to hear, but we can see. If we were able to pass the general education examination after graduating, then we wouldn’t have this kind of problem. Now that I’m approaching graduation and can see my life ahead, I’m frustrated by our current education system.”
M.Ganbaatar, Special School No. 29 alumni and Head of the Mongolian National Sign Language Development Council NGO: Teachers are unable to communicate in sign language
“The Law on the Rights of Disabled People was adopted in February 2016. Sign language was identified as the mother tongue of deaf people. This school is unable to see this. Even though the school board claims that teachers are fully trained, they aren’t able to communicate in sign language when asked for a demonstration. This is definitely a violation of the rights of children living with disabilities. Teachers must be trained well so that they can provide an effective education.”