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Toilet Blocks at Bakalarr School

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Bakalarr Basic Cycle School, in the North Bank Region, is reached from Banjul by using the ferry across the Gambia River to Barra, followed by a road journey of about 15km. [ Map showing Bakalarr BCS ] The school serves five local villages, and has Grades from 1 to 9, as well as a nursery class. Pageant began visiting the school in 2001, and has helped in many ways over the years, but much of the credit for the huge improvements achieved is down to the enthusiasm and commitment of its headmaster Mr Bakary Gitteh.

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The Old Toilet

This photo shows the old toilet at Bakalarr Basic Cycle School which served the needs of both pupils and staff. It was obviously inadequate.

Members of staff looking at the small concrete toilet block

New Toilets

The new toilet blocks were completed in June 2003, with 12 toilets: 5 girls, 5 boys and 2 staff. They were built with labour provided by staff, pupils, their parents and villagers, with design assistance from WaterAid. In an area with scarce water resources, and no main drainage, flushing toilets would be an impossible luxury. The effluent is therefore be contained in chambers below ground level, preventing contamination of the groundwater. The following pictures show stages in the construction.

underground effluent chambers being constructed with concrete blocks in a deep pit
Chambers which will contain the effluent
a concrete base slab has been cast over the underground chambers at ground level, with a series of holes for the effluent
Base slab cast over the underground chambers
concrete block walls being built on the base slab, reaching about waist height so far
Walls under construction
the toilet block has been completed, painted white and finished with doors and a corrugated iron roof
Completed toilet block

The difference that the toilet blocks have made to the school is immense. Not only are there more toilets for the school children and staff, but the upgrading of facilities means that the school can now host inter-school events, such as the District Football Gala and the District Athletics Tournament. Consequent improvements in sports facilities and equipment allows the school to offer Sport & PE as exam subjects.

Update October 2003

One of the highlights of Ian and Pippa's visit to The Gambia was the opening of the two toilet blocks at Bakalarr School. Mr Gitteh, the headmaster, said that the new toilets would benefit the now much greater number of pupils. Also the school will be able to host the Gala Football Tournament next summer, as the facilities are now up to standard. The opening ceremony was part of a truly memorable day of celebration and welcome, including music, dancing, a tour of the school and presentation of prizes to the winners of the Microscopical Drawing Competition. Two further microscopes were presented to the school, as part of the batch of ten donated by the RMS, along with a large number of other items.

Pippa cuts a ribbon at the door of one of the toilets
Pippa cuts a ribbon to open the toilets
Ian emerges from one of the toilets after checking the facilities
Ian emerges after checking the facilities
Pippa stands inside one of the toilets
Pippa stands in one of the toilets
a toilet block is surrounded by a group of adults and children some of whom look inside
Adults & children outside the toilets
a closer view as people look at the new toilet block
people getting a closer look
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