A Year in Prep at STA

Mwajuma started in Prep this year.

Prep is a vital year for our students. Before starting Grade 1, they have the prep year to learn English, the language they will use in all subjects throughout their schooling at STA and then at secondary school.

Nearly all prep students start the year with no English language knowledge. The first day they learn "Good morning", "yes", "no" and "toilet" and we build from there. It is a long and gruelling process for both teacher and student BUT it is fun and exciting and each student is successful.

Enjoy Mwajuma's story. Look at the photos, read the words and know that at STA our students ARE LEARNING and the SUCCESS is what drives us each and every day.

Mwajuma's mother heard about STA through the grapevine and somehow found out about our selection day, though we didn't advertise. She had heard about our teaching style and how well STA kids speak English and she wanted the best for Mwajuma.


We instantly liked Mwajuma's focus and enthusiasm. On the assessment days she didn't just listen to the story but she mouthed along the words, even though she didn't understand. She made every attempt to speak English and helped other students complete tasks. She was only 5 at the time and we saw huge potential. She got one of only 15 spots to start Prep at STA in 2014.


The first few days of school were filled with much excitement as the students explored the classroom and the school. From day one, Mwajuma, who LOVES talking worked hard to pick up the English language.


 Our students have access to books from Day 1. They read together and they read by themselves. Our students start by finding letters that they knew in books and slowly moved to sounding out whole words.

Soon, Mwajuma was reading whole sentences by using the pictures and letter-sound knowledge. Understanding was the next step. Mwajuma retells what she has read, asks questions and predicts what will happen next.

Just last week Mwajuma jumped two reading levels and is now reading at a Grade 1 level while still in prep!


Our students are proud of the work they do. After each task they ask 'Can I please share?' We put up student work on the wall and students make presentations to their peers. Here, Mwajuma is showing a picture she made about her family. She is using the new vocabulary she has learned.


Prep students learn through play. Here is Mwajuma taking a ride in the tractor during our Farm Unit earlier in the year. Our students come to school with few experiences, so we create experiences for them to help them remember and learn.


Maths is not just about rote learning. It is much more fun than that! Here Mwajuma and Omari are measuring their feet during a Measurement unit. We use a range of different resources to help each student understand new mathematical concepts.


Valentine's Day craft. Our students learn about celebrations and traditions in different countries through books, art projects and videos.


From the very first day of school our students write. They start with letters and then practise listening to sounds in words to write whole sentences. Here Mwajuma has written a sentence and is drawing a picture to match.


Craft activties are a highlight for our students many of whom don't have access to items such as coloured pencils and scissors at home. A visitor brought some beads for the students to make necklaces. Mwajuma took hers home to give to her mother.


This year we had a special World Cup celebration to coincide with our campaign to get new monthly donors. Each student was put into a team.

Mwajuma was in Team Australia/New Zealand. She participated in a soccer tournament, art activities and other challenges.


Students get a lot of teacher time and we cater to the needs of each student. Our classes are kept small with only 25 students per teacher. We constantly assess students to inform our teaching.


One of Mwajuma's favourite things this year was learning about music and instruments. She enjoyed making her own guitar and learning new songs. Learning songs helps our students practise their oral language skills.


Mwajuma had great success at our sports day. All talents and skills are valued at STA.


Mwajuma was lucky enough to have her Australian sponsors visit her this year. Her sponsors visited her at her home in town and met her mother.


Mwajuma's sponsor is a primary school numeracy consultant and principal in Australia. When Debbie visited our school she led some professional development sessions with our teaching staff to help improve teaching strategies. Mwajuma and all the students and teachers benefited greatly from this experience.


Whole school photo, February 2014. Can you spot Mwajuma?

Mwajuma has had a very successful prep year. We are excited to see her continue her learning next year and in the years to come. All too often in Tanzania kids face failure at school....not at STA!

Global Classroom Questions

1. Why do STA students start in 'prep'?

2. Why did Mwajuma's mother choose STA?

3. Compare you year with Mwajuma's year. What is the same and waht is different?

4. How many students are at STA? (Clue. Count the students in the photo!)

5. Have you ever tried to learn another language?If yes, how do you feel? Is it easy or difficult?

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Steven Tito Academy