The new academic year has started for A Level students and Form 6 students are currently doing their regional exams. Walking towards the shade at Smith Campus is Joshua, Daniel and Daudi, Form 6 students who’ve just finished their regional examination for that day, joined by Samson who is in Form 4.Cracking a joke about how hard the physics paper was, Joshua said, “Today’s exam was difficult. We had to leave some questions worth ten marks unanswered because it was a topic that we haven’t covered yet. Starting a new academic year is a bit of a challenge for me because we still have to cover some of the Form 5 topics.”
“Honestly, it feels great to be back at school. I felt like my brain was becoming slow and I was a kindergarten student learning to read and write by the time I’m back. It was a difficult period.”
“We had our study packs but it's not the same thing. I believe you need a supporter, a teacher, a school and lesson materials to able to study properly. We are glad that the school is open again,” Joshua added. Agreeing with Joshua’s sentiments, Daniel said, “Life at home was really challenging. I prefer coming back to school, and I never want to go for a holiday again until I graduate. I feel safe here more than when I’m home.”
“For me, the most difficult part was to wear the face masks the whole day and washing hands regularly. When I left, this wasn’t the culture but I had to adapt,” he added.
Schools across Tanzania, including St Jude’s, were mandated by the government to close on 16 March and all students had to return home. Having to stay home for over three months, Samson and Daudi said they had a tough time coping when they returned to school.
“When I got back, having to stick to the school’s timetable was challenging.” To make up for the lost time all students are required to do an additional two hours of learning per day as directed by the government, “this has made it even more difficult for me to adjust,” Samson said. Daudi who was also of the same opinion added that “Although it was tough, the teachers had tests prepared for us when we returned to keep ahead in our learning.” To support the students, St Jude’s had prepared and delivered four rounds of study packs for all students to continue learning while they were at home. These included lesson notes, worksheets and even mock exams. Joshua, Samson, Daniel and Daudi all agreed that the study packs were extremely helpful, affirming that the packs were a reminder of their studies and priorities and that St Jude’s truly cares for them.
“The study packs were indicators of us going back to school. Before the packs, I would spend most of my time doing different chores around the house and helping my parents with some of their work. When the packs arrived, this helped me to re-focus on my studies. It was the best idea from St Jude’s,” Joshua said.
“My parents took the study packs very seriously. Before the study packs, it was hard for me to study. I would probably study for two minutes and get discouraged especially when I knew there was no grading. But the thought of teachers preparing, printing and delivering the packs and that the school was incurring cost in doing so just to support its students, this made me study hard as if I was studying for a real test.” Daudi said with a soft chuckle.
Now that the students are back at school, they’ll be studying hard until December. One thing is certain: despite all the challenges St Jude’s students faced due to COVID-19, education remained top priority.