Onward to 2018

We have just booked our tickets for our next visit to the Gambia and Sohm - it will be for four weeks during January/February next year .

During that time we will be able to catch up on projects that we have funded since February this year - and report back to you, the donors and other visitors to this website. We will also be able to kick start other projects that we have previously discussed with the schools, as a result of some generous donations we have received from family and supporters recently.

A big thank you 

Most significant among the donations has been one we have received from Redbridge Rotary Club, for £250. The Club has been good friends of this charity, and we are always delighted to return, each year, to give them an update on life in the schools in Sohm, and to be able to show, quite explicitly, what their donations have funded.

Redbridge Rotary, significant
donors to SSS. Thank you!

Progress this year with the Lower Basic school

As far as the Lower Basic (primary) school is concerned, this year we have been delighted - with our partners from Jersey - to fund the complete renovation of the outside toilet blocks of the school. We will publish photos of the completed project when we receive them, but understand from the school that the work has been satisfactorily completed.

Broken outdoor toilets at Sohm LBS
 - now refurbished - thanks to SSS!

We also funded an internet router for the school.  MaLamin Gibba, the school's deputy head wrote to say:
We are learning to use it and in time, we will come to know much about it and be able to use it in the best interest of the school and the pupils.
We provided a much needed new printer scanner for the school. This enables them to print their own materials rather than having to travel the 15 miles to the regional office in Brikama to get it done. MaLamin, again:    

Having it eases all the hitches we were encountering in the previous years. This year we not only prepared and printed examination questions but we are also able to prepare materials we use in our administrative works as well as print schemes of work and lesson plans.
Perhaps our largest, on-going commitment to the school has been to fund a "homework club" for what we thought would be two hours a week, after school, for pupils who struggle to get space or quietness at home to study.  So popular has this become, that it is now running three nights a week, and is always packed!

Homework club, in SSS-funded
 refurbished library
Most of the staff live in the village, and they continued to operate the scheme, on a voluntary basis, over the summer holidays, so that the scheme did not lose momentum.  We are obviously delighted by this!

In conclusion, MaLamin says a big than you to all our supporters: 
"Can you just imagine how much you are doing for the school? The great work you are doing for the school cannot easily be forgotten. They are visible more so, everything you do is put in our records and filed. Therefore, the amount spent on cash power (electricity supply, which we also fund - having wired the school up two years ago) is all receipted and filed. At this juncture we have nothing but to say thank you to you and all those who supporting us through you."

Deputy head MaLamin acting as "patient"
 in recent SSS-funded First Aid training day

Secondary school progress

The school has benefitted from a major classroom extension building this year - financed by our Jersey partners. And, splendid it looks too.

New Jersey-funded teaching
block in Senior Secondary school
Our major contribution to the school - apart from our annual stationery donation and the sponsorship of a number of poorer pupils - has been the funding of "additional classes" available for ALL students, of one hour per week in each of the core subjects of English and Maths, at the end of the school day.

As we have previously mentioned, progress in improving public examination results for the school since our involvement, five years ago, has been quite remarkable.  The school has shot up regional league tables and from being very much at the foot of these tables, it is now in the top two or three of performers.

The subjects where least progress has been made, however, has been in English and Maths - arguably the two most important - certainly when it comes to the jobs market.

Eighteen months ago we set out ambitious plans to address this, but funding (jointly with our Jersey partners) the "remedial" classes as they were originally dubbed. They proved very difficult to get off the ground, initially. Then, when they were up and running, the school - like all others in The Gambia - was hit by the country's political instability last December, and effectively closed for a month.

75% attendance at voluntary, extra-curricular,
 SSS-funded additional classes in English and Maths
So, a second start was made this new year, and we are delighted to report on progress. We are provided with monthly attendance sheets and progress records - as part of our conditions for funding the scheme. These are subject to spot checks and independent verification by our Jersey partner's local agent in The Gambia.

The results have been most pleasing. Although the scheme is entirely voluntary and extra-curricular, average attendance at the classes has exceed over 75% in both subjects in every month, bar one, since its re-introduction.

The subject teachers and the school's principal review overall progress with the scheme each month and re-tweak it and set targets to be reached.  Regular reports go to the schools governors, who are delighted with the scheme's effectiveness.

This scheme has taken a while to come to fruition, but perseverance is showing pleasing signs of success.  The acid test, of course, will be in next year's public examination results.  We are crossing our fingers!