PAGEANT - "Education is the future"

Our Sponsorship Scheme

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Education in The Gambia

The Gambia Education System is well structured, providing teaching up to and including university level, but students must bear some of the costs. Many schools have dedicated teaching staff, but most are short on teaching facilities and equipment, and many schools have buildings in a poor condition. Efforts are now being made to come away from a learning by rote system to one that is more pupil centred, but progress is slow. Despite all these problems, children are enthusiastic about education, and many achieve good results. Read more about the Gambian education system.

Why sponsorship is needed

Pageant's motto is "Education is the future". We firmly believe that education is one of the surest ways of improving living standards in The Gambia. Pageant provides help to schools with construction projects and with teaching facilities and equipment. This helps to improve the environment in which children learn. However, school fees and the cost of books, uniforms etc. limit the opportunities available to less well-off children. Many Gambian children are not able to attend school because the family is too poor to pay. Schools try to give some latitude in payment, but eventually they will exclude children if fees are not paid. Sponsoring children from poor families can make all the difference, allowing them to reach their full potential and contribute to the future prosperity of The Gambia. A shining example of educational sponsorship is Mr Bakary Gitteh, whose education was sponsored a while back, before Pageant was active. Mr Gitteh is now the Headmaster of Bakalarr School. (more about Bakary and his visit to the UK)

Pageant's Sponsorship Scheme

Pageant has set up a sponsorship system whereby the entire amount of a sponsor's donation is sent directly to the child concerned. Unlike some other schemes, we do not put your donations into "general funds" which can then be used for anything - including admin or advertising. Full sponsorship aims to cover school fees, exam fees, books, travel, uniform and one meal per school day over a whole school year. Organising this involves a lot of work, both here and in The Gambia. We want ALL of the money you donate to go to your chosen student, so the admin costs are paid from the money we raise from Membership Fees. For this reason we ask that all sponsors are Pageant members. If you wish to sponsor a student and you are not already a Pageant member, then you can apply for membership on our Sponsorship Form.

We always have a list of children and young people who are currently seeking sponsorship. Our Sponsorship Enquiry Page shows photos of these students, with some brief details. You can use this page to request further information about one or more selected students. This information will then be sent to you by post.

Once you have agreed to sponsor a particular student, we would like you to establish a personal relationship, so we prepare an information pack containing a message from you, the sponsor, preferably with a photo, and we send this to the student. During each school year a message is sent back to you (in the form of a letter or drawing from the child) together with photographs and a report on progress at school. Pageant constantly checks that the money is being used correctly for the student's education. In general, sponsorship is sent to each student in two instalments each year - the first is sent out before the start of the school year in September, so that uniforms and books can be purchased and the first term's fees can be paid. The remaining money is given out in February, to ensure that funds are available for the child throughout the year. See how sponsorship works on our Sponsorship in Action Page.

How much does it cost?

Not as much as you think... It costs less than 25p per day to sponsor a nursery or primary age child to go to school. The amount of sponsorship needed depends on the child's grade at school as shown in the table below. We believe that our sponsorship scheme is as good as any, but please check other schemes on this SOS Children's Villages sponsorship comparison page to see how we compare.

school grade UK equivalent annual amount
N1-N3 Nursery
1-6 Primary
7-9 to GCSE
10-11 leading to A-level
12 final A-level year
  Further Education Varies - please ask

You can pay annually, quarterly or monthly; by cash, cheque, standing order, or by one-off bank payment. Contact us for information on making payments or for Pageant's bank details to set up a standing order.

You can download a Sponsorship Form*, which includes a Gift Aid Declaration. If you are a UK taxpayer, Pageant can reclaim an extra from the taxman, making your support achieve much more without costing you another penny. There is also a separate Gift Aid Declaration Form*, which gives you more options, such as Gift Aid for donations you made in the past.
(*If you click these links above, you will be able to read more about Gift Aid before downloading forms in either Microsoft Word or PDF format.)

Further Education Costs

You will have noticed that in the table showing sponsorship costs, Further Education is shown as 'Varies - please ask'. This is because there are many different FE courses with varying costs, so the funding requirements for each student must be calculated individually. As well as course fees, students need books and other study materials. To give you some idea, these are some current course fees converted into UK pounds at the July 2014 exchange rate.

At The University of The Gambia, most courses are 4 years long, costing between 550 and 750 per year. Law is the most expensive 4-year course. Medicine is a 7-year course, costing around 670 per year.

Professional courses such as accountancy are examined in the UK by bodies such as ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and AAT (The Association of Accounting Technicians). Costs range from 530 per year for the three year AAT course to 650 for each of the three six month ACCA courses. (Pageant limits funding to one ACCA course per year.)

The Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI) provides courses in a variety of technical and commercial disciplines. There are NVQs in things like plumbing, electrical installation, painting and decorating, costing around 200-300 per year for 2 or 3 years. There are Advanced Diplomas in things like architecture, electronics and automotive engineering at 280-400 per year, usually for 3 years.

The Gambia National Tourism Training Institute (formerly the Hotel School), offers professional training in all aspects of hotel work, house-keeping, front office duties, cooking and restaurant and, more recently, hospitality management, leading to professional management certificates and diplomas. The cost of the courses is around 350-400 for 2-3 years.

There are also many small independent colleges offering shorter courses in IT, business studies, computer studies, etc. but we can't hope to gather information on fees for all of these.

Group Sponsorship

We are now having increasing problems finding sponsorship for Further Education students, because of higher course fees and other costs. We have instances where students have been sponsored through their education to Grade 12, but the sponsor can then no longer afford the increased cost of further education. One possibility is to form a group of people to sponsor a single FE student, and we call this Group Sponsorship. For instance, 5 or 6 people each paying 10 a month could send a student to the University. If you would like to form such a group, please contact us for further information.

Emergency Sponsorship Fund

We have also set up an Emergency Fund for children who have progressed some way in school but whose parents can no longer afford the fees, and for sponsored children whose UK sponsor can no longer continue sponsorship. We do our utmost to ensure that students under our scheme can be kept at school until new sponsorship can be arranged. If you would like to help us with our Sponsorship Scheme, but feel that you cannot commit to a long term arrangement over a number of years, then you might like to contribute to our Emergency Sponsorship Fund. A single donation can make the difference between exclusion and being able to take an important exam. You can send us a cheque using the option on the Sponsorship or Membership form, or you can donate online using your credit or debit card.

Click this 'Donate' button to make a donation to Pageant's Emergency Sponsorship Fund. This link takes you to a BT MyDonate page we have set up for this fund, where you should then click on 'Donate now'. Donations will be kept separate and used only for our Emergency Sponsorship Fund.

If you would like to sponsor a child or young person's education, then please look at our list of students seeking sponsorship. Everyone on this list has been carefully selected. We make sure that they are in genuine need of help, and that they have the necessary ability and determination to benefit from being allowed to continue their education.

Pageant is a UK Charity - Registered No 1093963