Great progress at Lower Basic school this year

This post, as promised, reports back on what donations to Sohm School Support have achieved in the Lower Basic school over the last twelve months, or so.

Everything we do there is at the request of, or in agreement with, the principal, governors and community of the village.


There are only three, outdoor, toilet blocks for the 400 pupils and 20 staff of the school. As we reported last year, they were unsanitary, attracted snakes and in states of considerable disrepair. At the request of the community, we have completely upgraded these - with new doors and roofs, new concrete bases (to keep out the snakes) and provided them with a lick of paint.  See below for the "before" and "after" shots of one of these blocks.

Toilet block - before and after refurb

Stationery order

As in previous years, we have supplied enough stationery to meet all the pupils needs during the school year, and materials for the staff.  These are not provided by the government, or educational authorities in The Gambia.

Some of the pupils excitedly showing
off some of the stationery donation

Homework club

Many of the pupils are unable to get peace and quiet at home, to either do homework or read.  Following our refurbishment of the school's library, two years ago, last year we funded the creation of a homework club (2 hours) in that library on one night a week for any pupil who wanted it.  This has proved very popular and successful.  We will be continuing with the scheme and looking to extend it in future years.

Homework club in progress

First Aid

Last year we completely refitted out the school's First Aid room and got training for the staff, senior pupils and parents in first aid from our friends at FirstAid4Gambia. The charity has returned to completely restock the first aid room with medical equipment for the forthcoming year.  We thank them for their extended generosity, and to Mamadou, in particular, their extremely efficient local contact.

Some of the FirstAid4Gambia supplies
that will benefit both school and village

TV and DVD 

There are few TV sets in the village and none in the school..Three years ago we paid for the electrification of the school. This year - together with our partners in Jersey - we were able to purchase the school's first TV - and and necessary massive aerial dish - and DVD player. Gambian TV isn't great - but it does mean that for the first time the children at the school will be able to watch appropriate educational DVDs - a huge step forward in the teaching resources available to the school.

Deputy principal, Lamin, unloads the TV and
 an engineer installs the satellite dish

See above and below photos of the school's deputy head, Lamin Saidy, excitedly unloading the TV, people working to fix the aerial and an engineer tuning the system.  It's all systems go, for the future!

The engineer tunes - ready for reception!
And  ... the children watching the TV in class,
 for the first time!

New laptop for staff

Last year we donated a re-conditioned laptop to the school's deputy principal and he has made great use of it, for the school's benefit.  His self-taught up-skilling and the impact it has had on the school encouraged us to donate another laptop to an enthusiastic teacher.  The smile on his face says it all!

Another delighted laptop recipient!

Excellent progress

The school and regional educational authority continue to be delighted by our interventions at the school. One result is that the school is now top of its "cluster" of regional primary schools, in attainment levels.

Exciting plans for this year

Over the last twelve months some extremely generous local donors (including the Redbridge Rotary Club and friends) have donated significant sums of money towards restoring semi-derelict classrooms. Our next newsletter will provide updates on plans for this work.  And they are very exciting.

Watch this space!

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