- Associated Press - Friday, October 9, 2015

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Neo Tshani Mafunye is fluent in four languages. The special education secondary school teacher from Francistown, Botswana in Africa can communicate with her students in English, Kalanga, Setswana and sign language.

But this semester, she’s spending some time in the United States to figure out how to communicate with her students more effectively.

“Deaf people here seem to do so much better,” she said of the students she sees at Monroe County Community School Corp. schools.

Tshani Mafunye shadows Lindsey Weaver, an MCCSC hearing specialist, who works with students with varying special needs.

The partnership exists because of the Fulbright Distinguished Teachers program, hosted by Indiana University’s Center for International Education, Development and Research in the IU School of Education. The Botswanan, along with 16 other teachers from nine different countries and six world regions, arrived in August to begin audits of MCCSC classes, in order to complete their own specialized inquiry projects.

Tshani Mafunye’s mission revolves around finding out if her own special needs students can perform better in classes if their tests are administered in ways “best suited to their disability.” Currently, the classes only administer tests in written English. She said the districts she has experience with in Botswana operate very similarly to one another, unlike MCCSC schools, which she said cater more individually to students.

“If every district (in Botswana) looked at its own needs,” she said, “it would do a lot of good.”

Weaver said the MCCSC students she works with have varying needs, though more are hard-of-hearing than completely deaf.

“We don’t have too many profoundly deaf students here,” said Weaver. “It’s all very individualized work with families and teachers.”

The teachers will wrap up their inquiry projects in December. The timing works well for Tshani Mafunye, whose classes in Botswana begin their school year in January.

“It’s really an awesome program,” she said.

According to IU Center for International Education, Development & Research Fulbright Project Coordinator Jacob Butler, the program is administered by the Institute of International Education on behalf of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State.

It is one of multiple Fulbright programs created in 1946 under legislation introduced by former United States Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. Fulbright grants are awarded to students, researchers, scholars and teachers from the United States and to international scholars to study, teach or conduct research. This is the program’s seventh year and the second year it has been hosted at Indiana University in Bloomington.


Source: The (Bloomington) Herald-Times, https://bit.ly/1MgMj4M


Information from: The Herald Times, https://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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