At The School of St Jude, receiving a St Jude’s uniform is a day of celebration for newly enrolled students. It’s the first step towards breaking the poverty cycle for these students who come from considerably poor backgrounds, yet demonstrate academic promise.
Every year, St Jude’s offers academic scholarships for three key stages of a student’s education in Tanzania; primary scholarships to support primary students from Standard 1 to Standard 7, O Level scholarships to support secondary students from Form 1 to the end of Form 4 and A level secondary scholarships to support the final two years of school, Form 5 and Form 6.
Francis is among the students recently selected to receive an academic scholarship at St Jude's. He joined in Form 5 after attending a government school for his primary and O Level education.
"I attended a government school where classrooms are overcrowded, there are few learning resources, boarding houses are without running water, and all students share one bathroom. With St Jude's, I have all the resources I need to succeed in my academic career. It's a dream come true,” says Francis.
“I’ve been raised by my grandparents. My grandmother is a housewife, and my grandfather is a casual worker who does work as it comes,” explains Francis, who aspires to be a civil engineer.
"In the next two years, I will receive free, quality education, learning the skills I'll need to become a future, community-focused leader."
“It took me eight hours to get here from my village,” says Philipina, a Form 5 science student.
Philipina dreams of becoming a doctor. "I want to be a surgeon. When I see how doctors help the sick and save lives, I am inspired."
“This is my first time staying at boarding school and I love it here. I don’t have to worry about walking a long distance to get to school. I want to focus on my studies, fulfil my academic goals and develop my leadership skills so that I can support my family,” she adds.
At St Jude's, teachers are passionate about helping students build self-confidence and develop leadership skills.
“For new students, we first help them become familiar with the school's core values," says Mr Joseph, a business teacher at Smith Campus.
The school has four core values which are Respect, Responsibility, Honesty and Kindness.
“Good leaders should have courage to speak in public, be honest, and demonstrate responsibility," states Mr Joseph.
"I encourage my students to learn public speaking and to compete for different leadership positions so they can practise and sharpen their leadership skills."
One new student ready to heighten his leadership abilities is Kelvin. As he begins his journey at St Jude's, he is looking forward to pursuing a leadership position within the student government.
"I want to run for a position as an academic prefect in the student government election," reveals Kelvin, a science student hoping to study petroleum engineering once he completes his A Level education.
“I was an academic prefect at the government school that I attended. One of the differences between being a prefect at St Jude’s and at a government school is that we get recognised at the end of Form 6," he adds.
St Jude’s honours student leaders with certificates when they complete Form 6 for outstanding leadership service.
"When I graduate, I will use the certificate to demonstrate my leadership capabilities for employment opportunities," Kelvin says proudly.
St Jude’s strives for academic and moral excellence and ensures that students attain a holistic education, providing them with a pathway out of poverty.
St Jude’s three schools are lively places. There is always laughter ringing out across the playground, or a song wafting down from a music room, or an exciting game of football being played on the sports fields, with accompanying shouts and blasts from a whistle.
To take a step into one of our three libraries is to take a pause from this hustle and bustle and enter into a calm, quiet place of focus. Students take advantage of this atmosphere for their studies, to browse the shelves or to get a recommendation from one of our trained library staff.
Mr Forehead started at St Jude’s 13 years ago as a Library Guard. After a diploma and then a Bachelor of Teaching, he became our Primary Library Teacher. He’s never met another Tanzanian with the same job. “It is not a common role,” he says. “I teach students how to utilise the library, how to find books, how to borrow and how to take care of the books.”
When students begin at St Jude’s in Standard 1 or 2 (the first years of primary school), it’s usually their first time in a library. “When they first arrive, they are so excited about the library,” smiles Mr Forehead.
“Reading definitely helps them to improve their English,” he explains. “You’ll see when they start, you give them a book and they’ll just know one or two words, and then over time as we read more and more it just improves so much.”
Miss Sylvia is the Library Assistant at St Jude’s Girls’ Secondary School library. She takes a keen interest in her students to help them thrive in their first four years of secondary school.
“My students are big fans of novels. The most popular books are the Twilight books by Stephanie Myer and Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare,” she smiles. But Miss Sylvia isn’t content to leave her students to read only the most popular books. “I get to know students and staff members, so when they visit I can tell them about the certain things they’re interested in. So, students start to think, ‘Oh, Miss Sylvia is really interested in me,’ and it makes them feel important, that I care about them.”
In the primary library, Mr Forehead gets creative to encourage reading. “The students have reading competitions and then they make presentations about what they have read. With the young ones especially, I give them stickers when they finish a book, which gives them a lot of motivation,” he says.
Mr Forehead’s enthusiasm for reading is particularly remarkable given that his own school did not have a library. “We had a few books in boxes which were kept in the headmaster’s office and if you wanted to borrow a book, you would have to ask the headmaster. A year might go by without anyone borrowing the books and then you would find they had been spoiled,” he recalls.
For the last two years, SCIS (Schools Catalogue Information Service) has supported St Jude’s by donating their annual licensing fee and it’s made a huge difference in our libraries. SCIS creates easy-to-download catalogue records for school libraries and is used in libraries all over the world.
“With SCIS, cataloguing is so much faster,” enthuses Miss Sylvia. “All the information about the books is there. You can just click, download, and it’s all there and all correct. It has saved so much time.”
SCIS also assisted library staff with a series of webinars in 2020 to help make the most of everything SCIS has to offer. In a country without a huge network of libraries, St Jude’s is grateful to have a link to experts in Australia for inspiration and learning.
St Jude’s students are such ravenous readers that our librarians are regularly faced with a familiar challenge. “The biggest challenge is having enough books. The students love to read, and they’ve almost read all the books,” says Mr Forehead.
Over the years, St Jude’s libraries have been stocked with books donated by generous visitors and international supporters who have sent books to Tanzania. The school prepares a ‘wishlist’ of requested books each year so that visitors who wish to donate books can bring those which will be most useful.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has reduced the school’s annual international visitors from around 1,100 to almost zero. And no visitors means no new books. As the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, St Jude’s hopes to add new stock to its libraries.
Even with the challenges they face, St Jude’s libraries have an important role at the heart of each school. They’re a place for students to discover new worlds, to catch up on the news and to study, uninterrupted. Unlike the majority of Tanzanian students, who are not afforded the advantage of a school library, St Jude’s students can enjoy all of the benefits a library offers, thanks to supporters from all around the world.
In The School of St Jude community, neighbours play an important role.
Our neighbours show support and go above and beyond to help realise the school's mission and vision. In appreciation for their generosity, St Jude's invited 74 neighbours from the community to a special lunch, socialise, and tour the school.
We Love Visitors: Dalton, a Beyond St Jude’s Tertiary scholar shows Mr Cosmas and other neighbours around the campus.
“I've lived in this neighbourhood for more than a decade. I witnessed St Jude's being built from the foundation up to what it is today,” remembers Mr Cosmas who has lived near Sisia Campus in Moshono since 2000.
Sisia Campus houses both the primary and the girls' secondary school.
“It’s my first time taking a tour of the school. It is amazing to see how the school has grown from its humble beginning to where it is today,” adds Mr Cosmas, expressing his joy.
“Honestly, I’m happy to be here today. The St Jude’s community is kind. Everyone has received us with warm smiles, from the students to the staff and we all had lunch together.”
Listening Keenly: Ms Regina listening carefully to the history of school.
Regina has lived near the site of St Jude’s Moivaro Boarding Campus for 27 years. "I was delighted to receive the invitation. I enjoyed touring the school and seeing the facilities… libraries, labs, sports grounds…,” Regina shares.
Moivaro Boarding Campus houses students from girls’ secondary school. The campus has capacity for 600 boarders.
Boarding offers students, particularly girls, a safe and supportive learning environment, which combats social issues such as early marriage, teenage pregnancy, child labour and unstable family arrangements caused by economic hardship.
“St Jude’s has been helping the local community around this area by offering academic scholarships to children who are considerably poor. The school also provides locals with job opportunities,” she explains.
"I applaud the school for its work. St Jude's graduates are already helping their communities. The doctors, teachers, and engineers, for example, are not only needed in our local community but also nationally,” she adds.
Facilitating the tour was Focus, who works closely with the community.
“My role is to come up with different initiatives to engage our direct and surrounding neighbours. Our direct neighbours are those with whom we share a fence, while our surrounding neighbours are those living close to our campuses," explains Focus.
“Getting to know our neighbours is one of the initiatives. We would like to involve and engage the neighbours in our Spirit Program,” he adds.
St Jude’s Spirit Program is a movement that unites students, staff, families, local community and international supporters in fighting poverty through education.
Through the program, the school aims to recognise and celebrate those who go above and beyond to help nurture the future moral and intellectual leaders of Tanzania.
“In Africa, we believe that it takes a village to raise a child. Our neighbours are more than just neighbours, they are parents to these students. When they see something that is out of place or doesn't reflect our values, they report it for further action. This small act is a big support to the school,” states Focus.
Having lived for more than 19 years near Sisia Campus, Mr Didas has seen St Jude’s students come full-circle. “I have seen students start from primary school and now they're graduates and working at the school.”
He adds, "Focus mentioned that eight doctors are expected to graduate this year. That's great news. Who knows, they might open a St Jude's hospital one day! "
St Jude's extends its mission beyond the school gates. The school invests in the improvement and empowerment of its neighbours; transforming the lives of students, families and the wider community.