In 2015, The School of St Jude in Tanzania saw its first class graduate from Form 6, a significant achievement considering less than two percent of students in the country graduate from this level of schooling. Corresponding with this milestone was the implementation of the Beyond St Jude’s Community Service Year internship program. This program is entirely optional and graduates who choose to participate receive support to continue with their higher education through the Tertiary Program.
The Community Service Year, similar to a ‘gap year’, aims at providing graduates with the opportunity to give back to their local communities in thanks for their free education, while gaining invaluable skills to prepare them for their tertiary studies and their careers. Many interns participating in the Community Service Year program dedicate their time to local government schools which are highly under-resourced and overcrowded. The average class size these interns teach is 70 students, with some teaching well into the hundreds. Since the start of the program, the interns have taught over 30,000 students across the capital city of Arusha.
One intern named Farida started her education at The School of St Jude in Standard 1 in 2004. Her family’s inability to fund her education, combined with her intelligence, meant she was a strong candidate for a free education at St Jude’s, which accepts Arusha’s brightest and poorest students, much in line with the mission of the HALI Access Network.
Farida is teaching biology at a local secondary school and her contribution is highly appreciated due to the school’s shortage of science teachers, a problem many government schools deal with.
Farida is proud to give back to her local community as an intern. She recognizes how fortunate she is to have received a free and quality education through The School of St Jude and the step up it has given her in life, which she now wants to put to good use.
“After the Community Service Year, I want to study clinical medicine and then I want to work and bring a very big change to the community surrounding me,” she said.
Despite facing numerous challenges teaching in her local government school, such as the language barrier and a lack of resources, Farida highlights that seeing an improvement in her students gives her a sense of triumph.
“The language barrier is a big challenge. In primary school they learn Swahili but then they come here and it’s in English. You have to teach them lessons in English and Swahili so they can understand,” she said.“I feel proud to do this because I assist them and I see them improve. I see myself as an important figure that can bring change to them and my community,” she added.
To learn more about the Beyond St Jude’s Program, visit http://www.schoolofstjude.org/about-us/Beyond-St-Judes.