It’s 5am on a Sunday, pitch black outside, with no hint of light. Mr Somboka, the accounting teacher at St Jude’s picks up his phone to turn off his alarm, the screen glowing on his face.
Most weekends, Mr Somboka volunteers his time, going into St Jude’s to help his students.
His morning routine involves having a shower before eating his breakfast and, as the sun rises, he begins looking over his notes. Mr Somboka likes to meticulously prepare his lessons, reading absolutely everything that he can find.
At about half past nine, he says good-bye to his wife and two children, before arriving at St Jude’s just before ten o’clock.
As Mr Somboka arrives at St Jude’s, he walks towards Room 10 of Block B where fourteen of his Form 6 students are waiting for him. Today’s focus will be going over their previous exam.
After arriving, students begin approaching Mr Somboka’s desk, he goes over each exam with them individually. Some of them come holding a letter which outlines what errors they made in the exam, and strategies they can use to improve. “After receiving the letters I sit with them one after another and we talk,” says Mr Somboka. “We find a way to solve a problem with each student.”
Last year, St Jude’s Form 6 accounting class made it into the top 10 schools in Tanzania and Mr Somboka identifies one key factor in this success.
“I came up with strategies on how students will love my subject,” he says. “Accounting is everywhere!”
To connect with his students, Mr Somboka keeps his classes practical, relating the curriculum to the real world. “If a student’s dream is to be a business person I will ask them about managing their funds and turning a profit,” says Mr Somboka. “They’re the practical questions I ask my students.”
Mr Somboka is one of four children, his parents taught him the value of being patient and believing in yourself.
His family would work as a team, helping one another, in order to face their problems. This is an approach Mr Somboka has taken with him to St Jude’s.
“We do everything as a team, for each department,” says Mr Somboka. “If there’s a student failing a business subject, we as a department will meet and help that student." Teamwork and helping make up the spine of Mr Somboka’s teaching philosophy and are values that he passes onto his Form 6 students.
“I’m happy to see my students back in class after so long. My focus right now is to help the students cope after being home for over three months. Currently, the students are doing regional examinations and once that’s done, we will be going through all the past papers to prepare for the national examinations.”
“I absolutely believe that this group of Form 6 students will make it into top 10 again because the students worked extra hard coming out of the coronavirus pandemic,” says Mr Somboka.
On some days, Mr Somboka will be sitting in his office and hear a knock at the door. The person standing at the door will be a student, seeking help on an upcoming exam or even seeking counselling on what they are going through outside of school.
“One of the problems students have involved parents who are divorced and they will be sitting in class thinking about their mum and dad,” says Mr Somboka. “I tell them that this is their parent’s problems, and it is up to them to find their own future.”
“Once they have found their own future, they can help their parents.” He added, “My advice to all students is to focus on their priorities. They should always live based on St Jude’s core values which are Respect, Responsibility, Honesty and Kindness.”
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