Laughs, smiles and chatter filled the Dining Hall at St Jude’s Girls’ Secondary School on October 10, 2020. St Jude’s farewelled the first class of O Level leavers from our girls’ secondary school. Completing Form 4, the equivalent of completing Grade 10, is an educational milestone for students in Tanzania.
Indeed, being the first girls’ secondary school Form 4 Celebration and Awards Day, it was a major milestone for The School of St Jude. St Jude’s Girls’ Secondary School opened in January 2020, enriching our whole school community and enabling free, high quality education for even more Tanzanian females.
Among the grinning girls was Agness, who was thrilled to have reached this important stage of her educational journey.
“Today I’m hoping to win a few awards in Biology and also receive a Leader’s Certificate.” Agness smiled.
“After my O Level exams, I’ll use my time to volunteer. Teaching is my passion and I would like to come back and help to teach my young peers. I would like to help them with chemistry and biology.”
“Being selected at St Jude’s has been a blessing and my experience here has been amazing. I got to meet and be friends with a lot of other students. I was exposed to a lot of things such as activities and I went up the student rank and became a level coordinator for the Form 4 students,” Agness shared.
Agness’ mother was ecstatic about her daughter’s completion of Form 4. “I’m so happy... My wish for my daughter is one day for her to become a great leader.”
Also beaming with pride was Mr Elimringi, Headmaster for St Jude’s Girls’ Secondary School. “Today I’m so glad. It’s been a long journey to reach this day and we’ve been anticipating and dreaming about this since the school opened. The celebration is important, but we also expect and encourage our students to perform very well in their upcoming national examinations,” he said.
“Our job is to make sure we are raising our girls so that we can have very strong women leaders in this country and raise the number of students that are going to focus on science subjects.”
“We want our female students to healthily compete with male students. I would also like to help the community understand that St Jude’s gives opportunities to all students regardless of individual differences,” Elimringi reassured.
So, what’s next for our Form 4 students? Soon, they’ll sit exams. National examinations take place annually with strict supervision from the Tanzania National Board of Examinations under the Ministry of Education. These exams can determine whether a student is eligible to proceed to their next level of education; students sit these exams in Standard 4, Standard 7, Form 2, Form 4 and Form 6.
Margaret, grandmother to Hilda, one of our exceptional Form 4s, excitedly recalled Hilda’s Student Selection process – it’s still a raw memory, even though more than 10 years have passed!
“I remember the first Selection day, it was tough but I was hopeful that Hilda would get an opportunity to study at St Jude’s… but this is only the first step, she still has a long journey ahead of her.”
Hilda has chosen to study business subjects. She’s looking forward to a bright future, helping to improve her community during her study break after exams.
“I’m so excited and feeling fantastic. I will be spending my time volunteering. I would like to teach. But I will also try and get a job so I can support my family during this time,” Hilda said.
Form 4 Celebration and Awards Day is a huge step forward for our students. Completing Form 4 means they are closer to realising their dreams. For their parents and guardians, most of whom didn’t have the chance to attend secondary school, this is a major step in fighting poverty through education.
Our Form 4 male students at Smith Campus will be having their Celebration and Awards Day on November 7 this year.
What would you do to challenge yourself for The School of St Jude?
The school launched the ‘Challenge Yourself for St Jude’s’ campaign in early October, encouraging individuals, families, schools, universities, clubs and different organisations to take on a challenge. The aim is to fundraise for St Jude’s and help the school continue to educate and light the way to a brighter future for underprivileged, bright students in Tanzania.
‘Challenge Yourself for St Jude’s’ is about ordinary people doing extraordinary things and fighting poverty through education. Keep reading to see how our whole community has risen to the challenge…
Alumni showing support
One of our amazing alumni, David (Class of 2019), challenged himself to a 42.2km bicycle ride from Sisia Campus to Smith Campus on October 18!
“I got free, quality education from St Jude's and I would love to see many other students receiving the same education that will change their lives. This is the main reason I am taking the challenge for St Jude's. I want to raise as much money as possible for the school.”
David hopes his challenge will inspire other students and St Jude’s alumni to support the school and help the school to continue fighting poverty through education.
You can donate to David’s challenge or register your personal challenge via the school’s website; https://www.schoolofstjude.org/challenge/
Students reading to raise funds
St Jude’s students have committed to read to challenge themselves for St Jude’s. Through the read-a-thon challenge, students aim to read 10 books by the end of the year, inspiring you, our family of international supporters to donate AU$10 per book to their challenge!
Support the read-a-thon challenge by registering or donating to the power of 10 today:
Staff individual challenges
St Jude’s staff from different departments took on a variety of quirky challenges to support the cause.
The Sponsor Relations team involved others by providing spoons to all our business office staff. In a challenge called ‘Spoon Your Table’, staff could donate AU$1 for every spoon.
Irene, a member of the Supporter Relations team registered her challenge as an individual. She and her colleague, Rosemary, washed sports shoes for staff to help raise funds for the school. For every pair of shoes washed, AU$1 was raised for St Jude’s.
Anyone can create their own special, unique ‘Challenge Yourself for St Jude’s’ activity, big or small and inspire others to be part of the campaign.
Supporters across the globe have joined the challenge!
Noela, a St Jude’s long-term supporter, challenged herself to a 10km walk. Through her walk, she’s raised AU$2,000 so far.
“The real challenge is rising with an alarm at 4:45am to walk before the Brisbane heat kicks in,” Noela said.
Noela plans to walk daily to continue to raise funds and support the challenge - wearing a St Jude’s sticker attached at her shirt especially made for the cause!
“The St Jude’s sticker attached to my shirt by what I call a, ‘puppy dog’ clip, all adds to the experience!”
Also participating in Challenge Week is Rebecca, a supporter from Sydney, Australia. She has challenged herself to raise funds for St Jude’s by running a marathon that was broken up over 7 days. She’s run 18km so far.
You too can participate in a personal challenge like Noela and Rebecca to Challenge Yourself for St Jude’s. Donate today or register here to Challenge Yourself for St Jude’s: http://bit.ly/SoSJ-CY
Charity begins at home and to kick off Challenge Week, St Jude’s staff leaders and their families participated in a fun and games afternoon bringing together diverse staff and their families to raise money for the school. There were tough trivia questions, and there was also an Uno tournament and a limbo competition.
Why not host your own trivia event by purchasing a trivia pack from our website or host a games day with family and friends, charging everyone AU$10 to participate? You can make your event COVID-safe by hosting a virtual trivia event.
Standard 5 students, 25 in total, file into the classroom. The walls are covered with posters of facts and grammatical tips.
Despite the heat outside, most of the students are wearing sweaters. This is common among St Jude’s students, who take a great deal of pride in their uniform.
Last in the classroom, behind the students, is Ms Anna. She is about to begin a Kiswahili lesson.
Ms Anna places her bag on the desk and the students stand and sing her a song in Kiswahili, which runs through different categories of nouns. Once they’ve finished, Ms Anna nods in approval.
Kiswahili is Tanzania’s official language. Because St Jude’s is a English Medium school, all subjects are taught in English except Kiswahili. This means English is the medium of communication and instruction to all students and staff at St Jude’s.
To begin the class, Ms Anna turns to the blackboard, standing straight with one hand clasped behind her back, writing in flawless cursive.
“Before we start,” says Ms Anna, “is there any preparation you’d like to go over?”
Six hands shoot up before Ms Anna has even finished asking her question. The students begin making suggestions for the day’s class, speaking with ease and confidence. The feeling in the room is that of comfort and trust.
Ms Anna places importance on building trust with her students. She enjoys working with younger students, and teaching them more than Kiswahili… she also teaches them to strive to be better. Often, she will share parables with her class to teach them life lessons about happiness, setting goals and achieving their dreams.
“I teach my students to be better than me,” she says. “Don’t just try and be like me, be better than me.”
Ms Anna takes joy and pride in teaching her students, and to encourage and inspire them, Ms Anna shares her childhood stories with her students.
“My childhood was difficult but happy,” says Ms Anna. “I have a big family with six siblings.”
“My parents were poor and I would cry, I would see my friends with cars and shoes…” Ms Anna adds.
“…But look at me now!” She triumphantly exclaims.
Unusually, for a Tanzanian family of such limited means, all six of Ms Anna’s siblings graduated high school; they would always support each other and work hard.
For her education, Ms Anna went to a government school. Occasionally, her friends who had the money to attend English Medium private schools would poke fun at her because of her inability to pronounce certain words in English. For years, Ms Anna took to sitting under a tree and reading English books, as well as watching movies.
“I would read, even if I couldn’t understand,” says Ms Anna. “I would read out loud to practice my pronunciation.”
By the time she was in Form 6, her final year of secondary school, she was able to speak English confidently to those same private school friends, having worked hard to make up for the shortcomings in her education.
The Kiswahili lesson continues and students approach the front of the room, writing different nouns on the blackboard. Some even clasp their hands behind their back as they write, emulating their teacher.
If a student writes a word correctly, Ms Anna will nod her head and quietly say, “ehe.” If they get it wrong, she will comically contort her face in a grimace, before inviting the class to help.
A steady line of students continues to approach the blackboard, while Ms Anna pads around the room, talking softly, never raising her voice, and smiling, thrilled to have the chance to shape her students’ outlook on education and the future.
Ms Anna counts hard work and encouragement as the two most valuable lessons she learnt from her childhood and the emphasis on securing an education. She believes that the students can reach their goals and break the cycle of poverty regardless of their background.
Using human hair to address environmental concerns might seem like a far-fetched idea. However, David (Class of 2019), is recycling human hair and converting it into fertiliser!
David recently completed Beyond St Jude’s (BSJ) Community Service Year, teaching physics and biology to approximately 900 students in a Tanzanian government school.
“During my Community Service Year, I found a passion to help the community around me. I also strengthened my passion for recycling hair into usable products for both construction and agriculture industries,” David explained.
“The hair we collect is from local hair salons or from school campus. We have started a business and now have employees who collect human hair for us.”
As a result of his ingenuity, David was recognised as one of Africa’s Top 20 Young Entrepreneurs through a prestigious international competition. His business venture takes its roots here at St Jude’s, when David and his friend, Ojung’u (Class of 2019), first showcased their idea at St Jude’s Science Day in 2018.
“Ojung’u and I collected human hair and were proud to launch the project at Science Day. We came out as second overall winners out of all the students at Smith Campus!” David grinned.
David and Ojung’u oversee 17 employees and collaborate with more than 100 workers who collect hair for them. Their biggest dream is to conserve the environment, support his community and lift his family out of poverty.
St Jude’s Community Service Year through Beyond St Jude’s is a program that supports graduates through higher education. The program provides an opportunity for these graduates to pay it forward by volunteering their time teaching and supporting over 10,000 government school students each year.
St Jude’s is at the forefront of championing female students, so that they can be tomorrow’s leaders in a range of fields. Herieth (Class of 2018) is a true inspiration to her fellow female students wanting to pursue studies in science. Her achievements at St Jude’s earned her a full Beyond St Jude’s Tertiary scholarship to study a Bachelor of Science with Education at the University Dar es Salaam.
“I’m truly happy to have earnt this scholarship. It’s lifted a heavy burden from my parents. The money that was meant to contribute to my university education is now going towards my siblings’ education,” Herieth shared, her eyes glistening with tears of gratitude.
“My dream is to become a Science teacher. I would like to come back to St Jude’s and teach upper classes, especially Advanced Level,” she added.
Herieth joined in Form 1 – her first year of secondary school. She’d endured the rigours of a government primary school education and was among only a small number of students to achieve one of St Jude’s highly contested scholarship places when she applied.
“The first time I heard of St Jude’s, I came for Standard 1 and 2 selection. Unfortunately, I didn’t pass the test. When I graduated from Standard 7, my results were good and I received a letter from St Jude’s inviting me to come for an entrance exam and interview. On Student Selection day, there were more than 900 students, but I was lucky enough to pass the test this time and receive the opportunity to join the school,” Herieth explained.
Before Herieth started university, she joined BSJ’s Community Service Year. Herieth taught chemistry to more than 100 students at a government secondary school. She sometimes even taught Advanced Level subjects, if there was no registered teacher available.
“Without St Jude’s I’m not sure what my life would be. I look at my peers and all the girls I studied with at primary school are now either married or divorced with children and they are having a hard time surviving,” Herieth shared.
“I truly thank Mama Gemma, my sponsors, all donors and other supporters. They are helping people like myself run away from this cycle of poverty. Without education, life is too hard,” she added. Both David and Herieth are working towards achieving their goals and fulfilling their purposes of helping their communities to fight poverty through the free and high quality education provided by St Jude’s, shaping up to become outstanding role models and intellectual leaders of Tanzania.