Buguruni School for the Deaf is a primary school in the Ilala district of Dar es Salaam. It was officially opened in 1974 by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Tanzania's revered first president. It charges no fees and is largely dependent upon funding from a UK based charity called Tanzanear.
The school's motto is 'Education & love is our right'. Christian and Muslim pupils mix happily and peacefully. Often having to take many years off from education in order to help at home, many pupils attend the school until they are 18 years old. They need to spend time at the beginning of their school life learning sign language before they can progress to the mainstream curriculum.
In Tanzania deafness is both a cause and consequence of poverty. It commonly occurs through ignorance or misunderstanding of symptoms or failure to treat childhood illnesses which, in the developed world, are routinely diagnosed and treated. As such, it tends to be more prevalent among poor families who cannot afford adequate healthcare. The consequences can be devastating, as sadly, deaf children are often seen as a burden to their families. They cannot contribute to the family income, and it is not unusual for them to be rejected by their families and become outcasts.
The children at Buguruni come from all over Tanzania and the Zanzibar Archipelago, because it is very unusual for a school for deaf children to be free. About 50% of the children board at the school, so it is very much their second home.