Tatu, a caring and loving student in her final year of secondary school at Smith Campus, felt compelled to help the newly enrolled students with their transition into secondary school at St Jude’s. With hopes to provide the warmest welcome to these new students, Tatu wrote a Student Mentorship Program proposal and presented it to her teacher.
“Initially, a few students got together and started helping and mentoring all the new students coming into the campus. However, this year I took it upon myself to write and present this mentorship program to make it official and recognised by the school administration,” Tatu explains.
The Student Mentorship Program provides an easy transition and academic support for newly enrolled Form 1 boy students at Smith Campus. Part of the program is to assist in teaching English to the new students so they can communicate and adapt to an English-medium school with ease.
“I shared and presented the proposal to both the Career Guidance and English Departments. The teachers looked at the proposal and gave me the go ahead to execute the program,” Tatu says.
In the proposal, Tatu suggests that the volunteering students from Form 5 and 6 should, supervise and be responsible for several new Form 1 students.
“This year we have a total of 78 new Form 1 boy students. It’s a big group, so we’ve divided them into several groups. Each volunteer supervises a group of between six and eight students.”
As a leader of the program, Tatu makes sure that all volunteer students are guided and are able to manage the progress of each of the new students within their group.
“I prepare lesson plans. Once the lesson plan is approved by the Language Department, I share the plans with the rest of the students who are assisting with the mentorship. The plans are then distributed to the new students.”
“We use after school hours and the weekends to teach the new students. We also give them different assignments. One of the assignments is to do presentations in front of the class. This is to help them build their confidence and we also get to assess their progress,” she further explains.
Being a Form 6 student, Tatu is looking forward to doing her final exams. But, more importantly she is excited to see how all the new students will perform in six months with written and spoken English after successful completion of the mentorship program.
“As a leader of this program, I go around each group and seek students who perhaps take longer to understand and I have a one-on-one lesson with them. The aim is to make sure that, after the first three months, all these students are competent in English, confident and have settled in.”
Commending Tatu for pioneering the mentorship program is Mr Mollel, Head of Languages Department, after receiving the proposal from her.
“The Form 1 students we select and enrol from government schools hardly speak English. As teachers, we have to make sure they have the command of the language within six months. That’s why, when Tatu brought us this proposal and presented the modality of the program, we accepted it,” Mr Mollel proudly states.
“Students spend most of the time with their fellow students, so it’s easy for senior students to mentor and guide the new ones,” he added.
Explaining the differences between the set academic program and Tatu’s initiative, Mr Mollel says, “The difference between our academic program and the new proposal is that this initiative has taken a social approach, whereby senior students have more time with the new students… after school hours and on weekends.”
The academic department supports the program by providing books, study materials and assisting in creating and approving lesson plans. Mr Mollel believes that the mentorship project will help the new students learn the language, communicate and settle in more quickly.
Daniel who joined Form 1 beginning of this year, is a mentee in the program. He’s committed to speaking English and be able to communicate with his peers with confidence.
“I’m still learning the language. Tatu challenges and pushes me to do better and that makes me eager to want to learn more. I hope to be speaking English well by the end of this program.”
Aside from the language lessons, the program aims to engage and teach the new students school values.
“Tatu has taught me to follow the values of the school… Respect, Responsibility, Honesty and Kindness. Her advice is to always put my head down and study hard so I can achieve my goals,” Daniel said.
St Jude’s is an English-medium school and it’s committed to making sure that students understand and can communicate effectively in the English language by the time they graduate; nurturing well-rounded future leaders of Tanzania.
***Daniel’s quotes were translated from Kiswahili to English.
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