So, every Friday in November sees scenes like this outside the school as literally thousands of children apply for the 170 places that are available each year.
Gemma Sisia says –
"How I wish we could take thousands of new students next year! Every Friday afternoon this month we have had around 1,500 children with their parents or guardians waiting patiently at the front gate for the selection process to begin.
We are looking for children who are bright, very poor and have the right attitude to be sponsored to start in Std 1 or Std 2 at St Jude’s next year. Understandably, there are thousands and thousands of families who would love to get their children into a school that provides free, high quality education, hot lunches, uniforms, stationery and transport instead of attending the overcrowded, understaffed, government schools where they are stuffed into classrooms with few teaching aids and poorly trained teachers with up to 100 other children. "
Mary-Elaine, who is volunteering at the school this year, says that about 70% of the intake comprises children who pass the academic tests, the remaining 30% is made up of kids who are resolutely persistent. These kids refuse to be turned away. They come every Friday, refuse to leave, ask to take the test again, slip past the guards. She says that these kids do very well in the school – their determination and hard work carry them through.
This rigorous selection process ensures that all the children at the School of St Jude can make maximum benefit of the opportunities given to them.
It seems to me that the money I give to St Jude’s is just a portion of my surplus, but these kids and their families give everything they’ve got.