There is an age-old African proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ and at St Jude’s we not only have over 290 committed staff, we also have a group of dedicated parent representatives, who on behalf of almost 2,000 students’ families, work to better the school.
The Parent Committee started as a ‘working bee’ with parents planting the grass that students walk on and harvesting the maize and beans staff ate when the school began. As the school has grown, so too has the parents’ involvement. Forty-nine parents represent the different areas in which students live across Arusha and surrounding regions, to investigate any issues at home and keep parents informed when students stay in boarding.
Elizabeth, the Committee’s Chairperson, is giving back because she is grateful that a stranger from a foreign land, and the St Jude’s community, believe in her daughter’s potential.
“We follow up any issues by visiting homes, we look after the little primary students at the bus stops and we also arrange for parents to come in to school to help in the kitchens and maintain the gardens.” Elizabeth explained.
The father of Form 1 student, Irene, couldn’t be prouder to be on the Committee and loves sharing the St Jude’s story in the community.
“We have Committee members who update parents and talk to those in the community interested in St Jude’s. We also meet every month and all parents can attend. It’s very important in Tanzania to be culturally sensitive and we help with relationships between the school and parents. The Parent Committee has helped the school make lots of follow-ups. We are very involved.”
“We are proud to be part of the St Jude’s community; it surprises many people how this school helps bring hope to poor families. It is a very unique thing,” Charles said.
Assisting with welfare matters is also a key part of the role; representatives might visit a students’ home if a teacher identifies an issue with a student in the classroom to see if there are any underlying reasons for this in their home life. Parent reps are also involved in the student selection process, helping to identify and reach students in remote areas and in the greatest need of education.
School Founder, Gemma Sisia, meets with the representatives regularly and values their involvement. She explains the essential role they play in ensuring the welfare of students and in continuing the ethical and transparent legacy of the school.
“I believe they are the eyes and ears of what’s happening. Statistics have shown me that 99% of the problems they have reported are accurate. Their feedback has created change around the school, manuals have been updated and contracts have been changed. They are very honest with what they tell us and I think that’s precious,” Gemma reflected.
So just like the African proverb describes, an entire community is boosting and caring for each St Jude’s student, helping them to become the future leaders of their chosen industries and of Tanzania.
“The parents’ involvement and information comes from the heart as, in the end, they just want their kids to have the best education. They truly love our school,” Gemma concluded.
When you donate to St Jude’s you help ensure that the unseen but invaluable parts of the school, like the work of our Parent Committee, can continue. Donate today and help create change for a whole community.