Near Toulouse, parents of deaf children take action after the refusal of their children at the Ramonville-Saint-Agne school. The city known for its Education Center for Deaf Youth is a victim of its own success and can no longer accommodate more students. The students are now sent to the Rangueil school.
Between two appointments with the town hall of Ramonville and the rectorate of Toulouse, this mother does not get off the ground. “Everyone is paying and no one can inform us correctly”she complains. His daughter Elisa, has to return to the class of CM2. Elisa is deaf and her mother moved from Lille this summer to give her the best possible education. “I wanted to offer my child a sign language course throughout his school years”she says.
With a friend, also the mother of a deaf child, they decide to leave the north together and go to Ramonville, one of the few towns that offers sign language classes from kindergarten to primary school. “We came to visit the school in February and in June we were told that Elisa was on the waiting list because we did not have an address in Ramonville”remembers Clémence Couture, Elisa’s mother. “But I moved to Ramonville over the summer and even found a job there. Finally, in July, we found out that there was no more room for my daughter.”
According to APES 31, the Association of Parents of Deaf Children of Haute-Garonne, 4 families and 6 children would be in the same situation.
The Ramonville schools (pre-primary and primary) are the only ones in the entire Rectorate of Toulouse to offer bilingual classes. Deaf children are integrated in a “classical” school, but follow their lessons together, in sign language, up to the baccalaureate. “There are only a few cities in France that offer these PEJS, this Pôles d’Enseignement des Jeunes Sourds”testifies Etienne Barthélémy, the secretary of the APES 31. “For several years now, the number of children who want to join this center is constantly increasing, parents come from all over France. The city wanted to limit this number and it is our children who pay the price.”
Welcoming all children to Ramonville because the parents ask for it would not be good, neither for their safety nor for their level of education.Mostafa Fourar, Rector of the Academy of Toulouse
Faced with this constant influx, Ramonville Town Hall signed an agreement with the Rectorate limiting the number of deaf children welcomed in the two schools (kindergarten and primary schools) to 56. “Originally, this educational center was only supposed to house 36 students”tempers Christophe Lubac, the mayor of Ramonville-Saint-Agne. “Faced with the influx of requests, we have increased our reception capacity to 56 places, but we cannot go further than that. We are working on the inclusion of deaf children, which is only possible by maintaining a certain balance.”
A position shared by the Rectorate. “We are dealing with an inflation of applications this year”, responds Mostafa Fourar, the rector of the Toulouse academy. “But we have to limit our reception capacity to take care of these children in the best conditions.”
A situation that is refused by the families of these children for whom school is the best option. “We have no other solution that is equivalent in the region”, Etienne Barthélémy is outraged. “School in a traditional classroom with an interpreter is very difficult for a child to follow and sending him to a medico-social institution is not enough, they do not need care but have to take lessons in their language.”
Like Clémence Couture, many parents leave their families and jobs and travel across France to take advantage of this unique system. Some families even come from other European countries. “The real problem is that the other academies don’t… PEJS (Pôles d’Enseignement des Jeunes Sourds), but we cannot accommodate all of France”, regrets the mayor of Ramonville-Saint-Agne. “I’ve been fighting for years to develop this device in other schools.”
Faced with this situation, the Rectorate decided to implement an LSF (French Sign Language) device in the school of Rangueil (a neighboring town). “Specifically, this unit is built around a teacher with a degree in LSF and 2 AESH mastering the LSF”according to the rectorate.
But this does not satisfy the families concerned for whom this solution is not equivalent to the system set up in Ramonville. They also lament the breakup of their siblings. While their deaf children are sent to Rangueil, their siblings are welcomed at the Ramonville school.
The parents of these students and the APES 31 are mobilizing against this situation. The appointment will take place on Thursday, September 1, in front of Ramonville Town Hall at 8:45 AM.