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Fighting poverty through education


Students at St Aloysius College are helping to change the lives of the ‘brightest and poorest’ children in Tanzania, a school assembly heard last month.

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Founder of The School of St Jude, Gemma Sisia, visited the college as part of a month-long speaking tour in Australia aimed at raising awareness and the $US5 million needed to run the school each year.

Opened in 2002 with just three students on its books, the school now has 1800 enrolments, including 1400 boarders, and next year plans to open a girls-only campus for a further 600 boarders. St Jude’s operates 26 school buses, employs about 300 Tanzanian staff and supports the wider community which provides goods and services to the school, such as food and uniforms.

A maths/science teacher by training, Ms Sisia said her vision when she set up the school was to “fight poverty through education”.

“Our mission is to get children who are very, very bright and also very, very poor and give them scholarships,” she explained.

She told the gathering that those students attending St Jude’s received a free education at a school offering some of the best facilities – “similar to the education you are given here at SAC”.

However, St Jude’s relies on the fundraising efforts of schools such as SAC and generous donations to keep its doors open.

In a country of more than 60 million people, with 16,000 primary schools and only 500 high schools, competition for scholarships is fierce and there is a rigorous process of testing to select recipients. A condition of the scholarship is that the student must undertake 12 months of community service.

Joining Ms Sisia on the speaking tour was Godwin Silayo, a graduate from 2018, who has been teaching maths and physics to 250 students in a Tanzanian government school. In July he will begin his engineering studies in New York, with the aim of one day returning to Tanzania to help “transform” the country.

Also attending was SAC graduate (2011) and former social justice coordinator, Maddie Kelly, who has been working at St Jude’s for the past two years coordinating the alumni program. She likened the characteristics of Ms Sisia to that of Catherine McAuley, who founded the Sisters of Mercy.

Ms Kelly added that if it wasn’t for her education at SAC, the support of her teachers and friends she wouldn’t have had the “courage and fortitude” to follow her dream of working in Africa.

“Be proud to be an SAC girl and value your education,” she said.


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