The next task is to lift the standards, especially in small village schools across the country. This video clip, taken this year in a typical village school in northern Tanzania, shows the limited resources available in many schools.
To monitor educational standards, every Std 4 child in Tanzania sits a national exam in five subjects - Science, Maths, English, Kiswahili (the national language) and Social Studies (which is a Geography, Civics and History mix). Children at the School of St Jude did exceptionally well last year – they took five of the top 20 places in the Northern district of 17,000 kids!
This was achieved because the school selects capable children from the poorest families – kids who would probably not go to school at all, or who would get a few years of basic education in a typical village school.
Then the work begins! The Std 4 children who sat the exam this November started working extra hours way back in January. This meant that teachers, drivers and cooks have been putting in extra time all year. As Gemma says,
I would like to thank all the drivers who would work tirelessly driving all the Std 4 kids home each evening, the cooks who would feed them after school before they started their late classes and of course all the teachers and admin staff who worked in making sure that all the students could reach their full potential. It was amazing to have children running up to me telling me that they thought that the exams were easy!! I NEVER thought an exam I did in the past was easy and so it was a thrill to actually see kids excited about going in to do their exams!
The difference that an education at the School of St Jude will make to the children, their extended families, and the whole community is immeasurable. In comparison with these benefits, our gifts of money and time seem small.