Pageant's work in The Gambia covers
many parts of the small country. Our projects in specific
locations are listed in other pages. This page covers our work
which is widespread or of general relevance:
Helping Gambian Children -
Pageant's sponsorship programme, pays school
fees and other essential costs for poor children.
Help for Gambian Schools -
Pageant supplies schools with classroom furniture, essential teaching
equipment, and helps to finance construction projects.
Help for Gambian Teachers -
Pageant's workshops show Gambian teachers ways of
teaching practical science in schools with few facilities and how
to use microscopes. We also run workshops in creative writing.
Help for Gambian Communities - Our
micro-loan scheme promotes small businesses in village communities and
we also help in the fight
Visits - Pageant members
make regular visits
to The Gambia to meet sponsored children, check on the
progress of various projects and take part in 'fun' teaching
Special Projects - such as the
'all-terrain wheelchair', a prosthetic leg for a small boy,
and of course, goats!
Helping Gambian Children
The Gambia has a well structured
education system, ranging from nursery schools up to the university. Nursery
education is outside the state system, so all children must pay fees. In
Lower Basic Schools (age 7 to 13 approx.) education is
provided free by the state, but students must pay for some books, as well as
uniform, food and travel. Upper
Basic Schools (age 13 to 16 approx.) also charge
boys for tuition and exams (girls pay no fees)
and book and related charges are higher. All these fees are much higher in Senior Secondary Schools (age
16 to 19 approx.)
is keen to go to school, as they realise that a good education is a way to
escape from poverty. However, many families cannot afford the cost for the
children to even start school, and many more 'drop out' due to increased
expense when the child should go on to Upper Basic School and beyond.
Pageant's main objective is to help children from poor families to
start and then continue their education.
We have therefore designed a
sponsorship scheme to enable members to donate the cost of a child's
education, with all the money sent directly to the sponsored child, and no
deduction of administration costs.
further details and read more about
how sponsorship works.
The Gambian Ministry for Basic and Secondary
Education builds and maintains all the state run schools, but in a small
poor country, finance is strictly limited. Many schools needing additional
classrooms have to look for alternative sources of funding. Furnishings
and equipment is sometimes very basic or even non-existent. Pageant and
several other charities help Gambian schools with construction projects
and classroom equipment, making a considerable impact on the quality of the
school construction projects
has provided financial help for new school buildings and for completion of
unfinished projects where funds have run out.
Kitchens: School kitchens
sometimes provide poor children with their only substantial meal
of the day. Pageant has helped with new or refurbished kitchens
Saloum and Wesley.
Toilets: We have also helped with new or
refurbished toilets for schools at
Mahmoud Achten and
current projects include toilets at Humanity Nursery and Banyaka LBS.
Other building work: Many of the
construction projects have included ancillary structures such as offices,
staff rooms and storerooms. Also schools in remote locations often provide accommodation for staff.
Pageant helped Bakalarr school construct some
School grounds are often open and unprotected, allowing hungry animals to
feast on the school vegetable gardens. Pageant has helped schools build
perimeter walls at
Classroom Furniture and
Equipment for Schools
Pageant often gets donations of schools furniture,
and other equipment, which becomes surplus when UK schools upgrade. We
also get donations of office furniture, which can be used in senior
schools, or for libraries. Electrical equipment presents particular
problems, as many
schools in The Gambia have no mains electricity, and are unable to
use many of our normal gadgets. Schools need manual typewriters, sewing machines
etc. See more
details and also a
list of suitable equipment.
Equipment for Gambian Nursery and Primary Schools
primary schools in The Gambia often lack the basic essentials of
classroom furniture. Sue and Phil Taylor have started a project
to ship donated outdoor play items to The Gambia. This first
consignment went to the Sheik Hatab Memorial Nursery (SHM) in
Gunjur. Sue and her family visited SHM to set up the play
equipment, and work with the teachers to structure the outside
play activities so that all the children get a chance to learn
to play and co-operate. They are now collecting more equipment
for other schools, and are fundraising to cover the costs of
sending further containers.
[Read more about
Sue & Phil's project]
Sending Goods to The Gambia
For several years, Pageant shipped items
in containers handled by another charity 'Friends of Gambian
Schools' (FROGS). Subsequently FROGS stopped shipping containers, so Pageant
now makes its own shipments as and when funds permit, often
using Kamino Redcoat to ship part loads to The Gambia. We source things in The Gambia wherever
possible, as this also helps the local economy.
Gambian school children learn their science
from the blackboard - most of them never see or use any practical
equipment due to lack of funds for such resources. Pageant provides
science equipment and instruction in how to use it to a wide range
of schools and teachers.
Pageant distributed a number of microscopes
to Gambian schools from 2002 onwards, and organised Microscope Competitions, with children producing drawings of things seen under
these microscopes. In 2005, Pageant member Frances Boswell, then a student
Collyer's Sixth Form College in Horsham, enlisted the help of Head
of Science Joe Brock to devise practical equipment specially for
Beacon Status for Science awarded by Ofsted,
and works on initiatives including the production
of teaching units and resources. As well as developing the
Gambian teaching kits, Joe also wrote a
teacher's manual, which is now called 'Teaching Practical Physics
Anywhere'. This book and Joe's methods now form the basis for
Institute of Physics
teacher training projects in
seven African countries.
Practical Physics Workshops 2006
Frances and other Pageant members put together
the teaching kits,
before taking them to The Gambia in February 2006 for 'pilot'
workshops, where the kits were demonstrated to both staff and
students at Gambia SSS in Banjul and Essau
SSS on the North Bank.
The workshops demonstrated four topics: radioactivity - simulated using lots of dice,
frictionless motion - using a CD hovercraft, waves -
using a long spring, and finally a water rocket.
Pageant held its first
Physics Workshops for Gambian science teachers in February 2007.
The one day workshops were held in schools and colleges in
widely spread locations; Bakalarr BCS, Essau SSS, St Augustine
UBS, Sinchu Baliya LBS, Gambia SSS and GTTI. They were staffed
by Joe Brock, various Pageant members and students from Collyer's, with Collyer's
providing much of the equipment and funding. The topics were
chosen from the 73 listed in Joe's book. Favourites were levers
and masses, waves, hydraulics and finally the water rocket.
In October 2002, Pageant gave
microscopes to three schools. These microscopes were partly
sponsored by the
Royal Microscopical Society
and 10 further microscopes were fully sponsored by the RMS in
February 2003. Members of the EMUS SEM user group sponsored prizes for the best
drawings of things seen under these microscopes. See details of
2003 competition and
Not all teachers fully understood how to get the most benefit
from these microscopes, so Pageant is running Microscopy Workshops and science teachers
can then pass on
microscopy skills to their students. The impact of
these workshops is immense. If each teacher interfaces with
just 200 pupils, then in the course of one set of workshops, we will have introduced practical microscopy to
In 2009, Pageant was awarded £3,000 by the Royal
Microscopical Society Vice President’s Fund, enabling us to set
up our first Microscopy Workshops in February 2010. [more
Practical Physics Workshops 2011
second Practical Physics Workshops were held in
February 2011, utilizing an incredible donation of £13,000 worth
of educational science equipment from Technology Supplies Ltd.
They were held over three days at Gambia College, with four topics
on each day. The students were split into four groups of six, and
rotated between the topics, so that by the end of the workshops,
they had all studied all twelve topics. The topics were measurements,
motion, pressure, dynamics, gravity, light, heat energy, waves and
sound, electricity, magnetism, strength of solids and solar
Pageant was again fortunate enough to be awarded £3,185 from the
Royal Microscopical Society Vice
President's Fund. This was used as the basic funding for our second Microscopy
Workshop. We were also fortunate to receive a magnificent donation of 50
of their MS-2 student microscopes from
and 20 Olympus and Philip Harris microscopes from
Microscopy Workshops were held concurrently with Science Workshops over
four days at Gambia College. The science topics were moments, (including
Newton's Laws of Motion & Hydraulics), Chemistry, Radioactivity,
Electricity and Waves (including Sound & Light). 80 student teachers
attended, each of them spending one day at the Microscopy Workshop and one
day at the Science Workshop.
on 2012 workshops]
The Creative Writing project was started by
Julie Laslett and Caroline Webster, after a holiday in The Gambia in
January 2011. They were struck by the absence of any creative
writing in the schools’ curriculum, despite all teaching being in
English. They decided to
create a resource specifically for The Gambia, aimed at stimulating
creative thinking and enhancing the vocabulary and context of the
Caroline and Julie delivered a series of
one-day workshops to teachers and trainee teachers in January 2012,
aiming to assist teachers in understanding and writing short
stories, and learning how to use the resource with pupils in their
Pageant's close links with schools and
village communities mean that we are constantly aware of issues
which affect children's education. These are some instances
where we provide help to Gambian communities.
As well as their household work, Gambian women traditionally look
after vegetable gardens and make craft products such as tie-dyed
fabrics. Pageant promotes
in a number of villages; funding literacy and numeracy classes,
providing craft tools and helping women to market their craft
products. Some of these groups are associated with Pageant loan
schemes, and in one case this evolved into the successful
Sika Village Market.
Pageant loans are locally run
micro-finance schemes, which lend small amounts of money to enable people to
start up small businesses.
The first Pageant Loan
Schemes were launched in the neighbouring villages of
Bakalarr and Sika in 2005
and 2006. These have been followed by schemes in Gunjur,
Jambanjelly and Siffoe.
Pageant Loans Page
has further details about these schemes, with reports on their
The Artemisia Project
Malaria is a constant hazard in The
Gambia, and villagers cannot afford the drugs and treatments routinely
used by visitors from developed countries.
A relatively inexpensive treatment has been in use in China for
centuries. This is a tea made from the leaves of Artemisia annua.
Unfortunately, this plant does not grow well in hot climates, but recently
a variety, called 'Anamed', has been developed which is more suited to
African conditions. This has been trialled at the Gambian National
Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), and the leaves are already in use
for malaria treatment in some surrounding villages. Growing the plants
from seed is a bit tricky, so Pageant provided funds for NARI to grow
plants, to distribute them to several villages, and then to
train villagers in cultivation and further propagation by
Following on from this, Pageant appointed Lamin Njie as
'Artemisia Ambassador'. After training at NARI, he will be touring The
training and support to help village communities cultivate, harvest and
use Artemisia in treating malaria. [more
details about the Artemisia project]
Pippa, Ian and other Pageant
members visit The Gambia regularly, nearly always each February,
often in October and sometimes also in April. A major task is to visit as
many sponsored children as possible, checking on their progress at school
and handing over sponsorship money. They also
talk to teachers at these schools to decide which other students should go on our list of those requiring sponsorship. The visits are a
chance to liaise with our agents in The Gambia and check on the progress of
Pageant funded projects. We try to report these visits in detail, as it gives our friends in The
Gambia the opportunity to see themselves on this website. Sometimes
however, Pippa and Ian are just too busy to write up accounts of
their visits, particularly when these are combined with
The following news pages give details of
some of these visits:
sister Tina brought hands-on art to the children of Kings Kid Academy,
where they created a jungle with flowers and animals. She then went on to KMJ Nursery School,
where they made an ocean with fishes and other sea-creatures.
Frances, Lauren, Rosie and Sarah, gave art and other 'fun
lessons' in two schools, and visited three other schools to meet
sponsored children. Frances kept us up-to-date on our blog,
which we have turned into
this web page.
Pippa, Tina and Frances visited a number of schools, giving art
lessons at three nursery schools. Once again Frances posted
details on our blog, and we have turned these into a
Lauren and Dan are studying
to be teachers at the University of
Chichester. As part of their Education Degree Course, they taught in
three Gambian schools. Their trip was recorded on our blog,
which we have turned into a
Visitors from The Gambia
Pageant thinks that it is essential that the people we rely on in The
Gambia get to know how things happen at this end.
In 2004, Pageant's
agent at the time, Kemo, spent about 6 weeks visiting schools and other
locations in the UK.
In 2005, Bakary Gitteh, the headmaster of Bakalarr School visited the UK. See the reports
on his visit
Foundation for Disabled People is a
Registered Gambian Charity that was set up in 2001. They produce
wheelchairs specially designed for use on unmade roads in
developing countries. Their workshop provided Sarjo
Badjie, one of Pageant's sponsored students, with one of these.
this news page] They also
operate a computer training centre for people with a physical
handicap. The initial batch of computers was provided by Pageant
member Keith Farrington in 2004-5.
Sarjo's special 'all terrain' wheelchair
Six year old Modou Lamin
was born with his right leg permanently bent at the knee.
Initially he got about on his knees, but then learnt to walk
with crutches. Orthopaedic surgeon Douglas Sammon decided that
the best way to help Modou Lamin was to amputate his deformed
leg at the knee and fit a prosthetic leg. The operation has
been successfully carried out, and Modou Lamin is making an
excellent recovery. Pageant has launched an appeal to pay for
his new leg, so that Modou Lamin can get on with living a normal
life. [more details]
<< Modou Lamin before his operation
2011, Pippa heard about a very poor Gambian family who had all of
their seven goats stolen. This was a terrible blow, as the goats
were the only things of value that they possessed. An adult goat
costs about £40 - £48, so Pippa initially set herself a target of
collecting £240 - enough to replace maybe five of the goats. This
target was reached in just five days, so a new target was set, so
that all seven goats could be replaced. The success of the appeal,
which closed on 10 April, was almost overwhelming – in 5 weeks we
reached nearly £810. This was enough to replace all seven goats,
provide a lockable shelter where they will now be secure at night
and to buy and donate some goats (and maybe shelters) to two other
deserving families. Our grateful thanks to all who contributed to
this amazing total, especially staff at ERA Technology, and members
of St John's Church, Broadbridge Heath. The amazing success of this appeal prompted us to add goats to
our list of
about this story]