US University to Help Deaf Youth in Nigeria
An American private university dedicated to the education of the deaf and hard of hearing says it will use a grant from the U.S. government to assist deaf youth in Nigeria.
Gallaudet University in Washington said it will use the $2.05 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to help Nigeria develop programs for the education of deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing in the West African nation, which sends more students to the U.S. than any other on the continent.
More than 400 languages are spoken in Nigeria, and the initiative intends to make Nigerian Sign Language "more widely accepted and recognized," according to Khadijat Rashid, interim dean of the faculty at Gallaudet.
"We really need to shift the mindset to have people see that this is not a disability," Rashid said in a statement.
"It's really just a language barrier issue. If you teach deaf people in their language, they develop just fine like everyone else. When you pass by someone on the street, you don't know if they are deaf. They are just human," said Rashid, originally from Nigeria.
The initiative will promote education, employment and empowerment and was formerly called the Deaf-E3 Project. Gallaudet will partner with the Nigerian National Association of the Deaf and Wesley University-Ondo in Nigeria.
Gallaudet and its partners will develop bilingual education programs and promote collaboration and communication between Nigerian Sign Language interpreters and deaf consumers. They also will expand awareness of employment opportunities for the country's deaf community.
The initiative was the inspiration of the late Isaac O. Agboola, born and raised in Nigeria, and "a beloved Gallaudet alumnus, faculty member, and dean who passed away in 2017," according to the university announcement. "Dr. Agboola wanted to bring Gallaudet home to Nigeria," said Rashid.
Agboola was born and raised in Nigeria, and he was a student and co-worker of Gallaudet alum and teacher Andrew J. Foster, who founded 31 deaf schools across the African continent. Agboola first met Foster in 1971 while attending the Ibadan Mission School for the Deaf in Nigeria, and later worked for Foster's mission office in Ibadan.
USAID administers the U.S. foreign assistance program that provides economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 80 countries worldwide.
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Biden Cancels Federal Student Loans for Nearly 153,000 Borrowers
President Joe Biden said Wednesday that while a college degree was still a ticket to a better life, that ticket is often too expensive, as he announced he was canceling federal student loans for nearly 153,000 borrowers.
Biden, who is in the midst of a three-day campaign swing through California, made the announcement as part of a new repayment plan that offers a faster path to forgiveness, putting the spotlight on his debt cancellation efforts in his reelection campaign.
"Too many Americans are still saddled with unsustainable debt in exchange for a college degree," he said from a local library before he went on to campaign-related events. Loan relief helps the greater economy, he said, because "when people have a student debt relief, they buy homes. They start businesses, they contribute. They engage."
The administration began sending email notifications on Wednesday to some of the borrowers who will benefit from what the White House has called the SAVE program. The cancellations were originally scheduled to start in July, but last month the administration said it would be ready almost six months ahead of schedule, in February.
"Starting today, the first round of folks who are enrolled in our SAVE student loan repayment plan who have paid their loans for 10 years and borrowed $12,000 or less will have their debt cancelled," Biden posted on social media Wednesday. "That's 150,000 Americans and counting. And we're pushing to relieve more."
The first round of forgiveness from the SAVE plan will clear $1.2 billion in loans. The borrowers will get emails with a message from Biden notifying them that "all or a portion of your federal student loans will be forgiven because you qualify for early loan forgiveness under my Administration's SAVE Plan."
In his email to borrowers, Biden wrote he had heard from "countless people who have told me that relieving the burden of their student loan debt will allow them to support themselves and their families, buy their first home, start a small business, and move forward with life plans they've put on hold."
More than 7.5 million people have enrolled in the new repayment plan.
He said Wednesday that it was the kind of relief "that can be life-changing for individuals and their families."
"I'm proud to have been able to give borrowers like so many of you the relief you earned," he said, asking the crowd gathered for his speech how many had debt forgiven. Many raised their hands.
Borrowers are eligible for cancellation if they are enrolled in the SAVE plan, originally borrowed $12,000 or less to attend college and have made at least 10 years of payments. Those who took out more than $12,000 will be eligible for cancellation but on a longer timeline. For each $1,000 borrowed beyond $12,000, it adds an additional year of payments on top of 10 years.
The maximum repayment period is capped at 20 years for those with only undergraduate loans and 25 years for those with any graduate school loans.
Biden announced the new repayment plan last year alongside a separate plan to cancel up to $20,000 in loans for millions of Americans. The Supreme Court struck down his plan for widespread forgiveness, but the repayment plan has so far escaped that level of legal scrutiny. Unlike his proposal for mass cancellation — which had never been done before — the repayment plan is a twist on existing income-based plans created by Congress more than a decade ago.
Biden said he remained steadfast in his commitment to "fix our broken student loan system," working around the court's ruling to find other ways to get it done.
This College Student’s Acceptance Letter Came With a Marching Band
Alejandro Marroquin, 17, was surprised one morning by a full marching band outside his home, carrying a letter admitting him to the University of Maryland. Read the story from Emily Davies of The Washington Post. (January 2024)