Republic of Rwanda

  • Total Population

    12 million

  • Deaf Population


  • Nation's Official Language

    English; French, Kinyarwanda

  • Other Languages

    The number of established languages listed in Ethnologue is 6.Among these are:

    • Nyankore
    • Rundi
    • Swahili
  • Name of Sign Language

    Rwandan Sign Language (Amarenga y'Ikinyarwanda)

  • Overview Of Deaf Community And Education

    Reports by Karangwa and Kobusingye (2007) and Karanga and Wencelas (2008) provided a small snapshot of education for deaf children in Rwanda at that time. At the time of their study, nine deaf children were in (a private) secondary school; and from an estimated 10,000 deaf children in the country, just 300 (3%) were enrolled in primary and secondary schools, and two attended university. There appear to be no government schools for the deaf. Most deaf children do not seem to receive education. The first school for deaf children was established in Burate by Catholic brothers before 1994. The Institut Filippo Smaldone Pour Sourds-Muets which is located in Kigali is supported by an Italian Foundation. The Umutara School for the Deaf was started in 2005 on the basis of Canadian support. More recently, a center for deaf children was set up in Nyange in 2008, another in Nyabihu in 2013. Rwandan Sign Language seems to be used in these last two centers.

  • Sign Language Overview

    The first dictionary was produced in 2009 with about 900 signs. It was produced covering the five different regions. In 2015 the development of a new larger dictionary was announced by the RNUD but no further information is available.

    There is no information about possible influences on Rwandan Sign Language from other sign languages. There is also no information on its status in terms of being threatened.

  • Deaf Organizations In Country

    • Rwandan National Union of the Deaf (RNUD)

  • Overview of Interpreting Services

    There appears to be no official training for interpreters but there are apparently volunteer interpreters. There is no information about sign language being used in the media etc.

  • Resources

    Karangwa, E. & Kobusingye, M. (2007) ‘Consultation Report on Education of the Deaf in Rwanda’, Kigali Institute of Education and Ministry of Education.  

    Karangwa E. & Wenceslas, N. (2008) ‘Case Study on Inclusive Education and Enhancing Learning in Rwandan Schools’ Kigali Institute of Education: Kigali.  

    RNAD/VSO (2009) Inkoranyamagambo Y’Amarenga Yo Mu Rwanda (Rwandan Sign Language Dictionary)  

  • List of Contributors

    Anne Baker

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