We give the deaf a chance to learn to write, read and count – to get an education. Equally important, we give them a place to call their own, where they can break through the wall of silence surrounding them and talk among themselves in their own way – sign. As they communicate with peers and family through sign language and the written word, they develop their social and language skills too.
The school offers Language (Tetum), Sign Language, Maths, Science, Music and Arts & Culture to the students. Other supplementary activities include sports and vocational training in skills such as sewing, metalwork and baking.
As most of our students did not have the chance to attend school before, we teach them the basics, starting from the ABCs and 123s. Students learn proper signs adapted from Filipino and American Sign Language. In time, we hope a native, standardised sign language – Timorese Sign Language – will take root and evolve in its own, unique way.
As a start, local signs are being used where possible. For example, the deaf students have invented unique signs for “Timor Leste” and “Xanana Gusmao” which are used in school and among themselves. Maths basics are taught to the students, who also learn to tell time, learn about money matters, units of measure and more.
Students have the chance to take part in art lessons, educational outings to places of interest (such as Cristo Rei, Arte Moris, Atauro Island), various sports such as badminton, table tennis and volleyball. They also get to explore their musical side via song-signing and learning to play musical instruments. (Yes, the deaf can enjoy and play music!)
Agape had been invited to annual Christmas concerts in 2011, 2012 and 2013, hosted by the Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, during which they perform musical pieces and song-signing items.
Agape offers free schooling to all students. We also provide students with stationery, reference materials and worksheets, besides snacks and drinks.
Come join us! All deaf people who are interested to learn are welcome, regardless of age, gender or educational background.