Update from School of St. Jude’s: Parent Involvement
The School of St Jude started in 2002 with just three students in the Moshono area of Arusha, Northern Tanzania. How, then, did it grow to become one of Africa’s best and largest educational institutions of its kind, providing a free quality education to the poorest children in the region?
Any way you look at it, parent involvement from the get-go is part of the answer.
Most of St Jude’s parents have had limited education and some can feel uncomfortable in a school environment. But that never kept them from recognizing the value of a good education.
Meet Catherine, mother of St Jude’s student Augustino, who is in Standard 2, the equivalent of second grade in the U.S. They rent one room in a crowded compound with other families. The residents share a toilet, wash room and water tap. The women and children collect water for cooking, drinking, washing and cleaning from the nearby tap, for a small per-bucket fee. There’s no internal plumbing or electricity.
She and her husband are currently raising five children, four of their own and one child by a cousin of hers. Catherine’s husband farms his plot of land in Babati, a three-hour journey from Arusha. That is the family’s main source of income. He grows maize and beans, and is usually away for days in a row during harvesting season. Catherine complements the family’s income by cooking a fish and peanut dish to sell in town. Having enough food for her children and herself while their father is away keeps her awake at night. She must come up with a plan each day for where her family’s next meal will come from.
Despite all the adversities, Catherine makes sure Augustino is fed and washed each morning when the St Jude’s bus comes around to pick him up for school. Every afternoon she clears a space in the house to make sure he does his homework. As Augustino progresses along his education, he will be in a position to help his siblings in their studies.
He spends most of his day at St Jude’s. Classes start at 8:30 am, and the bus takes him home at 3 pm. He has regular Tanzanian elementary school classes, such as reading, writing and math, plus an enhanced curriculum including arts, computers and sports.
He also has a number of extra-curricular activities and breaks between classes, a time when he can socialize with his friends, play on the school’s grounds and enjoy life.
Catherine considers herself lucky. She feels her family has been blessed because one of her children attends The School of St Jude, where he not only eats two meals every day, but gets a better education than many children attending private schools in the region.
“I’ve seen a lot of difference since Augustino started studying at St Jude’s,” says Catherine. “He’s smarter, more polite and hardworking.”
Good job, Catherine! Your son is thriving at St Jude’s thanks also to your support and encouragement.