PAGEANT - "Education is the future"

Pageant General Projects

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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

The Gambia has a well structured education system, ranging from nursery schools up to the university. [more about the Gambian education system]. Nursery education is outside the state system, so all children must pay fees. Teaching is provided free in state-run Lower Basic and Upper Basic Schools, but students must pay for some books, as well as uniform, food and travel. Tuition fees are being phased out in Senior Secondary Schools but students will continue to pay all other costs. There are also many independent schools in the Gambia, often run by charities. Some of these charge tuition fees.

Every child 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. See further details of sponsorship and read more about how sponsorship works.

Tina and Frances with some sponsored children

Help with School Equipment

Sending Goods to The Gambia

Pageant is often given 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 things we take for granted. 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. However, we also try to source things in The Gambia wherever possible, as this also helps the local economy.

two containers being loaded in 2004

For a full description of how we do things see How things get to the Gambia

Play Equipment for Nursery and Primary Schools

Nursery and primary schools in The Gambia often lack the basic essentials of classroom furniture. Sue and Phil Taylor 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 worked 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 continue to collect more equipment for other schools, and to fundraise to cover the costs of sending further containers.
[Read more about Sue & Phil's project]

Play equipment supplied by Sue and Phil

Things they need

Pageant often gets donations of furniture and other school equipment, but some things are not so easy to obtain. As many schools do not have mains electricity, we are always on the look-out for donations of manual typewriters, sewing machines etc. For more details see this list of equipment required. Also if you are travelling to The Gambia, you can take small items with you - see this list of things to take.

Help for Gambian Schools

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 learning experience.

Helping school construction projects

Pageant has provided financial help for new school buildings and for completion of unfinished projects where funds have run out.

Classrooms: We have helped with classroom construction at Albreda, Bakalarr, Brikamedina, Hilary Emery (and its predecessor JTT), Humanity Nursery, Jurunku, Kings Kid, Saloum, Sinchu Baliya, and Siffoe.

Kitchens: School kitchens sometimes provide poor children with their only substantial meal of the day. Pageant has helped with new or refurbished kitchens at Albreda, Bakalarr, Saloum, Sheik Hatab, Siffoe, and Wesley.

Construction work at Kings Kid Academy

Toilets: We have also helped with new or refurbished toilets for schools at Albreda, Bakalarr, Banyaka, Campama, Humanity Nursery, Mahmoud Achten and Saloum.

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 Albreda and Bakalarr to build staff quarters. 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 Bakalarr, Humanity Nursery, Jurunku, Kanikunda and Sheik Hatab.

Helping Peace Corps Volunteers

The Peace Corps is a volunteer programme run and funded by the United States government, and there are Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) helping with teaching in many Gambian schools. The Peace Corps does not provide finance for their volunteers to use on school projects, so in a number of cases Pageant has helped with funding for such projects. Several projects have been successfully completed, and we hope that we can co-operate with the Peace Corps again as similar opportunities arise. For more about how Pageant collaborates with Peace Corps Volunteers and the schools they work in, please have a look at Pageant's Peace Corps Volunteers Page.

Gambian Schools Index

For further information about all the schools and educational institutes which Pageant is associated with in The Gambia, please look at our Gambian Schools Index.

Helping Gambian Communities

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.

Women's Groups

As well as their household work, Gambian women traditionally look after vegetable gardens and make craft products such as tie-dyed fabrics. Pageant promotes Women's Groups 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.

two of the women hold up the completed pice of fabric, dyed with an intricate pattern of blues and greens

Pageant Loans

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, Siffoe, Brikama and Abuko.

The Pageant Loans Page has further details about these schemes, with reports on their progress.

Bakary Gitteh talking about the Pageant Loan scheme

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 cuttings.

Discussing how to take artemisia cuttings

Following on from this, Pageant appointed Lamin Njie as 'Artemisia Ambassador'. He did some training at NARI, after which it was hoped that he would be touring The Gambia providing training and support to help village communities cultivate, harvest and use Artemisia in treating malaria. This did not materialise, however, so we now support Artemisia 'plantations' in some village gardens when the opportunity arises. [more details about the Artemisia project]


Many Pageant members visit The Gambia regularly in the winter months, between October and April. Ian and Pippa usually go out in October/November (start of school year visits) and then again in February (includes Science workshop team time!). Pippa often goes out again during the Easter school holidays with Tina and Frances (Nursery & Primary school workshops).

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 workshops.

new classroom furniture at Wellingara LBS

The following news pages give details of some of these visits:

Teaching visits

2007 Tina's art project
Kings Kid Academy - flowers, leaves & animals added to the jungle (2)

Pippa's 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.
[more about Tina's art project]

February 2008
Fun lesson

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 you can read on this page of collected blog posts.

April 2011
Frances with nursery children

Pippa, Tina and Frances visited a number of schools, giving art lessons at three nursery schools. Once again Frances posted details on our blog, which you can read on this page of collected blog posts.

June 2011
giant sea painting

Lauren and Dan were 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 you can read on this page of collected blog posts.

Visitors from The Gambia

Pageant thinks that it is beneficial for some of the people we rely on in The Gambia to get to know how things happen at this end. In recent years, however, with increasing immigration problems, these visits are almost impossible to arrange.
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 starting on this news page.

Bakary Gitteh in Weald School library

Special Projects

Help for disabled children

The Foundation for Disabled People was set up in 2001 as a Registered Gambian Charity, but to the best of our knowledge they are no longer in operation. They produced 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. [more about Sarjo and his wheelchair] 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.

A wheelchair made at the Foundation for the Disabled to cope with sand etc

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 about Lamin]

Modou Lamin before his operation

The Goats Appeal

In February 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 organised a fundraising appeal to replace the goats.

The success of the appeal was overwhelming - in 5 weeks we reached nearly 810 - 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 Ethical Gifts. The photo shows Baba with two of his family's new goats

[Read more about the goats]

a goat being introduced to her new home

The tippytap

The tippytap is a simple low cost solution to hand washing in places without a piped water supply. It is a simple device that provides a stream of water when a piece of wood is pressed by the foot. There is no need to use your hands, so cross contamination is avoided.

It is well known that washing with water alone is much less effective than using soap, so the tippytap system includes soap as well. It is easily constructed using recycled or scavenged materials, and is so simple that even children can build it.

Pageant is encouraging schools and communities without access to piped water to install tippytaps, promoting hand washing and so helping to control the spread of diseases.

[Read more about the tippytap]

A Tippytap in use

The Pageant Power Hut

Many villages in The Gambia have no mains electricity, so it is very difficult for families to provide lighting and recharge mobile phones. The cost of the solar panels and associated equipment is beyond the means of most people. Pageant member Andrew Williams designed the Pageant Power Hut as an integrated system, providing rechargeable portable lights so village children could do their homework after dark, as well as charging mobile devices.

[Read more about the Power Hut]

the sign goes up on the Power Hut
Pageant is a UK Charity - Registered No 1093963