The Dodoma Deaf School
“As long as we have deaf people on earth, we will have signs. And as long as we have our films, we can preserve signs in their old purity. It is my hope that we will all love and guard our beautiful sign language as the noblest gift God has given to deaf people.” – George Veditz, 1913. ( Former President of National Association of the Deaf-USA )
The origin of the Dodoma Deaf School can be found a long time ago in 1994 when one of the founders of EOTAS Foundation came to Tanzania for a visit. is a day and boarding school, which started in 2002 ,with 1 group in Kindergarten, 2 groups in preschool and 6 groups in Primary Education. On average there were 8 children per group with one hearing and one deaf teacher working together in each group. Due to shortage of space is the school forced to combine groups in the same classrooms. In addition the school is using two of the boarding houses as temporary classrooms for primary education. EOTAS provides the following assistance together with The Liliane Foundation from the Netherlands:
- Travel support for pupils and their parents, when required.
- Payment of allowances for assistant teachers.
- Medical care for the children.
- Provision of tea, porridge and small snacks during mid-morning break.
- Funding of boarding facilities for 32 children, who failed to go home daily due to distance or domestic problems.
- Provision of accommodation and support facilities for a volunteer Speech therapist who works at the school in cooperation with the organisation of VSO (Volunteer Services Organisation)
As a result of the assistance of EOTAS the school continues to expand. Still the school faces many challenges as follows:
- Shortage of 6 classrooms for the year 2011.
- Insufficient funds to take care of more children in boarding. Many deaf children are denied their right to receive good care and an education, because of distance and/or problems at home.
- Shortage of sufficiently trained teachers who are capable of using sign language to support the children in communication, in their whole social- and learning development and understand the psychological needs of deaf children.
- By the end of the year 60 children were registered at the school. In reality an average of 54 children would show up daily. Often different parents find the challenges of daily survival to great to assure that their children attend school every day. Few parents give the education of their deaf child the importance it requires. This is one of the reasons why participation in sign language training and close contact with the school is hard to realise amongst all parents.
Support for Secondary Students
EOTAS acts as a mediator for the Liliane Foundation to assure that as many deaf students as possible can follow secondary education. Secondary education is an essential requirement to continue with professional training and ultimately formal employment. Unfortunately results have shown that most students do not achieve required standards in order to continue with further professional training.
EOTAS is investigating opportunities to improve special secondary education for deaf students. The secondary schools need to provide qualified teachers, who are good in sign language. It has been proven that most of the deaf students fail to understand subjects, because Secondary schools are teaching in English, while the Deaf Students only understand Kiswahili supported by sign language. The English language used at secondary school prevents the deaf students from understanding the teachings in any one of the subject. In addition exams are conducted in English, therefore placing the deaf student at a further disadvantage due to lack of understanding of the English language. Possible improvements can be achieved by teaching all subjects in both languages or run a specialized course supported by sign language to enable the deaf students to understand written English.