How Changing a Student’s Life, Changes a Parent’s Life
When a student is accepted into The School of St Jude, the impact extends beyond the student’s education. Having their rights to quality education upheld has a rippling effect that affects the members of their family, such as parents and siblings, as well as the community. The way this occurs takes different forms, such as through the sharing of learning from students to parents and through the offloading of parent’s financial and mental stresses.
When it comes to the Tanzanian schooling system, there are three key stages. The first is primary school (Standard 1 to Standard 7). The next is secondary school which is comprised of Ordinary Level (Form 1 to Form 4) and Advance Level (Form 5 to Form 6). To the students and their parents, The School of St Jude is more than providing free, quality education and it is more than a school. It means more support and a future of hope.
Reducing financial stresses
For the families of St Jude’s, over their child’s thirteen years of schooling, the families save an average of US$6,500 on costs that are covered by the school; including food, boarding, education, transportation, and so on. What’s even more impressive, is that our data reveals that over the 13 years of schooling, the average family income improves by approximately 15% for each year their child is at school.
However, through St Jude’s rippling effect regarding financial and social support, after 13 years of schooling a student’s family has on average tripled their income and exceeded the Extreme Poverty Line. This is even more important as economically, those living in such extreme financial circumstances rarely improve along with the rest of a country’s economic growth. In fact, according to World Bank data, the bottom 40% of the economy in Tanzania actually had a -0.15% growth outcome over a seven year period. When we see our family’s incomes over 13 years on average
growing by 15% per year, on that is a significant difference. That’s why it’s more than education!
When you teach a child, the community learns
Our students are spreading knowledge! Quite often, our have parents who did not have the means to complete schooling beyond primary school. This makes the new knowledge our students acquire at St Jude’s invaluable to their family members and their communities.
There are many inspiring stories of how our students sharing what they learn in the classroom has touched their communities. There were some students who learnt new agricultural practices that they shared with their families to put into practice on their own farms. There were also students that were able to teach their parents English or numerical skills so that their parents were able to get better-paying jobs. The power of sharing knowledge in leading transformation, for both families and communities, cannot be understated. When students learn, parents and community’s benefit.
Less stress, more support
St Jude’s students are supported with free, quality education, onsite boarding for all secondary students, three nutritional meals a day including fruits and vegetables for snacks, around-the-clock support from teachers or boarding parents, a community of diverse school friends, as well as safe and reliable transportation between home and school for the students that do not board.
This support is invaluable to the parents as well. From a financial perspective, parents can better support the rest of their family when one of their children is being well cared for by the generosity of sponsors and the school. This also contributes to the alleviation of stress on the parent's mental well-being as they no longer need to worry about their child being in danger or in facing unreasonable hardship in attaining an education. In the end, upholding the right every child has to education ripples life-changing benefits not only in their lives but for their parents and their communities too.
Parents Uniting with a Mission
At The School of St Jude, the Mawimbi in the lives of the students extends beyond the academic and has a far-reaching impact on families. A key piece of localizing our impact is the engagement of the community and part of the way in which we achieve this is through our Parents Committee. When you donate or sponsor a scholarship at St Jude’s it is more than providing a child’s education, it means ensuring they are supported and cared for holistically beyond the academic. That’s the Mawimbi, it’s more than education.
Who are the Parent Committee?
The Parent Committee is made up of 55 parent representatives. The prominent members are Chairperson, Charles Kinga, and Vice Chairperson, Juliana Simons.
The purpose of the Parent Committee is for parents to unite with a mission to provide input and insight into decisions regarding student welfare and school disciplinary issues. With the majority of St Jude’s staff members being based in the Head Office, the Parent Committee plays a vital role in understanding the complex challenges students and their families may be facing in different community areas.
The Parent Committee is an initiative that was created to ensure that families have representation and at every level, the school is engaging a diverse range of voices for the best outcomes for the students. The parents that volunteer their time on the committee all have a child that attends The School of St Jude.
What does the Parents Committee do?
The parents are an integral part of the school, providing unique perspectives and insights across a variety of areas from:
- investigating any challenges students may be facing at home
- supporting families that may be dealing with additional challenges such as sickness or loss of a loved one
- helping to manage student disciplinary issues
- being on the lookout and reporting any welfare concerns
- temporarily fostering a St Jude’s when the need arises
The Parent Committee is the backbone of ensuring the holistic support of children above and beyond the academic. Beyond just their education. The Mawimbi is an extra layer of local support for families and children through the school. The School of St Jude’s is more than education.
What Exactly Does Free Education Mean?
In Tanzania and around the world, children from disadvantaged backgrounds are deprived of their right to quality education, with the main obstinate barrier being poverty. The United Nations named Quality Education as one of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved for every child by 2030.
As UN former Secretary-General, Kofi Annan stated “Education is a human right with immense power to transform.” The School of St Jude thus provides free, quality education to uphold this right every child has and recognizes it’s the best way to fight intergenerational poverty. However, at St Jude’s, free education means more than education. It means reliable transportation and ongoing support through boarding, nutrition, and more.
If you are from Australia and you are told a Tanzanian school is providing buses, it may not have a deep impression on you. In Australia, many children will still be able to find their way to school with ease if they happen to miss the bus in the mornings. Their parents, guardians or other trusted adults would most likely be able to drop them off at the school’s doorstep. However, access to safe and reliable transportation to and from school means a lot to the children of Tanzania.
Without a school bus, on average a child may around 7.5 miles to school and back. Due to the distance and sometimes dangers involved with walking, many children will drop out of their schooling at a young age. The national average of children aged 14 to 17 years old that are not enrolled in secondary education is 70%. So, to combat this, St Jude’s provides its students with safe and reliable transportation.
The school has a fleet of 25 school buses that travel almost 430 miles per day on 17 different bus routes, allowing students to get between school and home safely each day. It is estimated that one average bus carrying forty students saves about 310 miles of walking per day for the children. This greatly reduces any psychological stress for the parents too, as they do not need to expend their mental energy worrying about if their child has gotten to school or if they will make it home safely.
The free education that St Jude’s provides also means more support for the parents. On the financial side, parents are relieved of many associated schooling costs including tuition, boarding, nutrition, transportation, and all relevant school supplies such as uniforms, backpacks, stationery, and textbooks. By the time students graduate, our families’ circumstances have holistically improved; from housing and assets, to health and finances.
The ongoing support St Jude’s provides also extends to the students. Firstly, at St Jude’s there are 116 teachers employed either on a full-time or contractual basis at the school, making the teacher-to-student ratio 13-to-1. This translates to smaller classroom sizes compared to government schools that have over 65 students to one teacher on average. Smaller student-to-teacher ratios mean students can benefit from more personalized educational support from their teachers.
Secondly, over three-quarters of the 1,800 students at St Jude’s are in boarding. This means more than education to the students. It means close friendships, support with homework, and a safe place to call home for the term.
Lastly, students also receive three hot, nutritional meals a day. This positively impacts their dietary intake as well as their knowledge of what a healthy and hearty meal entails. This is essential knowledge they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives and will share with their families and communities.
So, when it comes to answering what exactly free education means? At the School of St Jude, it means continuous support for the psychological, physical, financial, and educational growth and welfare not only of the students but of their parents, families, and communities