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Progress at Bakalarr School - Summer 2004

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New Classrooms ( Pageant News 22 December 2004 )

Bakalarr Basic Cycle School [MAP] has a number of new projects, the most important of which is a new building. Previously, the headmaster had a very small office sandwiched between two classroom blocks and the deputy head had a desk in what was no larger than a big cupboard on the other side of the school. There was no staff-room for 35 teachers, no secure storage space for equipment and materials, and no designated rooms suitable for teaching Science or Home Science to the required level. A library had been started, but was squashed in around the walls of one of the classrooms. Work started on the construction of two classroom blocks in April 2004.  On our visit, we were delighted to see the two new classroom blocks that had been completed by the State Education Department, using funds provided by 'Future In Our Hands'. The new classrooms have been built to a high standard and are light and airy, with well-made desks for the children and a table for the teacher.

Future In Our Hands was founded in Oslo in 1974, and is active throughout Africa and the developing world. There is also a branch in the UK. In The Gambia, they have a particular interest in the construction of school buildings, school kitchens and providing furniture for schools. They operate in conjunction with several NGOs such as the World Food Program, the European Development Fund and Unesco.

exterior view of the new classroom block

children stand at their desks in one of the new classrooms

the new classroom block

inside one of the new classrooms

The headmaster, Mr Gitteh, has a new office in this building and there is also a small storeroom for materials. Bakalarr is now almost unrecognisable as the school we found on our first visit in February 2001 and it is very rewarding to see how the improvements have given such an boost to the attitude of both staff and students.

Nursery Class

Our visit was just a few days after they received the toys donated by the Bramley Nursery School in Surrey, and we were able to see the children starting to play with their new toys.

children trying out their tricycles

children on a sea saw and using a slide

children at Bakalarr Nursery Class enjoying some of their new toys

There is also a  video clip of this, which you can access these clips through the Clips Index page.

Further Projects

During our visit we arranged the hand-over of funds for three further projects:

1  A multipurpose court (The Gambians call it a lawn, but it is made of concrete!) for basketball, volleyball, tennis and badminton. The area for the court had been pegged out and levelled by the time we arrived and the first lorry-load of gravel arrived while we were there.

the old 'multipurpose court' - an open sandy area

the sandy central area pegged out and levelled in preparation for the new multipurpose court >>

a tipper lorry dumps a load of gravel for the new concrete multipurpose court

January 2005 - the multipupose court under construction - block wall foundations

a load of gravel arriving

the court under construction - January 2005


2 An area of concrete outside the now greatly improved nursery classroom for the children to be able to ride their new tricycles etc. - the sand is too soft for them to be able to pedal the bikes easily.

children in their refurbished nursery classroom at Bakalarr

children in their refurbished nursery classroom >>

3 A dedicated home economics classroom - this has been financed by donations in memory of one of our members who sadly died last year. Her family asked for donations to be made to Pageant as she was so concerned for the Gambian children and was one of our earliest supporters. We understand from Mr Gitteh that the classroom should be ready for our next visit in February 2005, complete with a locally made plaque in Joan's memory - as her daughter wrote to us, "as a knitter and seamstress, (Joan) can look over the girls as their guardian angel!"

Dutch connection - SEIG

On our return home from The Gambia in October we found an email waiting for us from a Dutch couple, Wim and Dorothé van Dijke. They had seen our website as a result of surfing the net for references to Bakalarr, as they also wished to help the school. Since then they have visited Bakalarr themselves and have arranged solar powered lighting for one of the classroom blocks and Mr Gitteh's office, given the school a laptop and a quantity of consumable materials and funded some improvements to the well. We look forward to seeing the results of their generosity in February. Check out their website.  This is in Dutch, but the pictures (click on the Fotopagina link at the left) are self-explanatory. Their photos of the children and the welcome ceremony are vivid reminders of our own experiences. We are hoping that we can persuade Wim and Dorothé to spread their endeavours to some of the other schools that need assistance and look forward to meeting them in the not-too-distant future.

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