The reigning Miss Deaf International Queen has called for the introduction of Setswana Sign Language in schools. The 31-year-old Serowe-born beauty, Kemmonye Keraetswe brought the crown home last July after emerging victorious in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Keraetswe is adamant that introducing Setswana will help improve the academic performance of deaf students, which at the moment she admits is ‘dismal’. “There is a need for Setswana Sign Language in schools. Right now we are only taught in American Sign Language and this hinders the communication between us and our parents,” she notes, communicating with Okavango Voice via Whatsapp. “I am a Motswana but I can’t read or write in Setswana. My parents can only try to give me signs but sometimes they don’t understand when I use the sign language that I learnt in school because it is a bit complex,” continues the brainy beauty queen, who is currently employed at Maun Senior Secondary School as a Teaching Assistant for deaf students. Keraetswe’s dream is to go to university but she keeps failing the entrance exam as American Sign Language has proved too complicated. “It is rare for deaf students to pass Form Five. I am even lucky to be working,” adds the trail-blazing queen, who is no stranger to international success having been crowned 2nd Princess Miss Deaf Africa in 2016. HONOR: Miss Deaf International award As for her journey as Miss Deaf International, Keraetswe claims that locally she has not been given the same recognition or received as much support as other beauty queens. “There are so many events happening in Maun but I have never been invited to any of them! I feel like they are discriminating against me but I am just like any of them, the only challenge is that I am hearing impaired,” she blasts. Additionally, Keraetswe says organisers often refuse to let her take part in pageantries on account of her disability. “Sometimes they don’t accept me but I am capable just like any other woman!” To compound her feelings of isolation, she is also having problems with the Botswana Deaf Organisation. As is the norm with beauty queens, part of Keraetswe’s reign includes overseeing a project. She wants this to be an independent project as she strives to inspire the death community. However, the Deaf Organisation insist they should be involved. “We don’t have any independence. They want us to do everything collectively even business,” she laments. In conclusion, Keraetswe urged the government to promote equality and work with the deaf community to improve their rights. She further called for the creation of Non-Government Organisations that will advocate for the rights of the deaf.