Every July, St Jude’s Secondary School is graced with new students eager to start their A Level studies. Sporting their new, brightly coloured school uniforms and typically walking in clusters, they stand out from their seasoned schoolmates. Among them is Saumu, an ambitious Form 5 student whose dreams and ambitions have found their perfect home at the school.
“Coming to St Jude’s was a dream come true for me,” Saumu says passionately. “I have been hearing good things about the school for many years. So, being here means a lot to me and my family,” she adds excitedly.
In Tanzania, there are two key stages to secondary schooling; the first four years of secondary school are called Ordinary Level (O Level) studies; from Form 1 to Form 4 and the final two years of secondary schooling are called Advanced Level (A Level); from Form 5 and 6.
Every year, St Jude’s awards full academic scholarships to the highest-performing primary and secondary school students from disadvantaged backgrounds through a fair and thorough scholarship application process. Hundreds of potential candidates from government schools across four regions in northern Tanzania are invited to apply for a scholarship at St Jude’s and subsequently go through a series of written and oral examinations and poverty assessments.
“The first time I applied for a scholarship at St Jude’s was in 2019 when I had just completed my primary education,” recalls Saumu. “I was the top performer from my school in the national exams and was pleasantly surprised when I also got invited to apply for a scholarship at St Jude’s!” she adds.
Unfortunately, Saumu didn’t get a scholarship on that occasion. Undeterred by the setback, she worked hard in school and four years later, she was invited again to apply for a scholarship at St Jude’s.
“You don’t always get second chances in life,” reflects Saumu. “So, when I came in for my second attempt, I gave it my all and passed through all the stages!” she adds excitedly.
Saumu is among 66 students who joined St Jude’s Secondary School for the first time in July. She is still adapting to her new school and has so far joined a public speaking club, and is excited to improve her English with the English as a Second Language (ESL) program at St Jude’s.
“Coming to a new school like this can be an overwhelming experience,” says Mr Elia, a teacher at St Jude’s Secondary School. “So, we have a system that guides and helps new students settle in and cope with the environment,” he adds.
Mr Elia is the Level Coordinator of Form 5. In this role, he looks after all aspects of the class; from academics to non-academics, to discipline matters, and how they cope in the new environment.
“Soon after reporting to school, we organise a one-week orientation for all students joining our campus,” says Mr Elia. “During this week, we introduce them to the entire school leadership structure, including teachers and student leaders. We also show them around the school and all the important places,” he adds.
The supportive environment at St Jude’s coupled with the school’s huge resources helps new students settle in quickly. In only a matter of a few months, most students would have already found their favourite sport, extra-curricular activity, and favourite subjects.
A good example of this is Nuhu, a Form 1 student who joined St Jude’s from a government school in January this year. In just a few months, he is now one of the top performers in his class, has secured a starting spot on his class football team and performed in a cultural competition earlier this year!
“When I first came in, I was blown away at how big the school was,” says Nuhu. “I thought it was going to take me a year to find my way around!” he adds with a smile.
Both Nuhu and Saumu are the first members of their family to reach secondary school. Prior to getting a scholarship at St Jude’s, they were both at risk of not continuing with advanced secondary education due to cost demands. With a scholarship at St Jude’s, their future is now secured thanks to the generous donations of sponsors around the world.
Every year, St Jude’s awards hundreds of primary and secondary school students with academic scholarships to lift their families out of poverty. Sponsor today!