Update on the Kenali Nursery School


We have just got back from another visit to The Gambia and the news is good. The third classroom block, funded by our sponsors in the north of England, Pat’s Party, has just been completed; the school is now securely enclosed and the children have new school uniforms. We are full to capacity (currently 55 children between 4 and 7) and when the older children move on in September there will be a new intake plus another qualified teacher.
We hope, however, to reduce class size to 20 because there’s not enough space at the local primary school and even that number of level 3’s will be hard to find places for.

During the last six months we have been extremely fortunate in linking up with Ruth Royle, a retired primary school teacher and educational consultant from the UK who is now living in The Gambia. She has kindly ‘adopted’ our school and is working intensively with the teachers on a voluntary basis, helping them to think about their teaching methods and curriculum. This is a welcome development as the teaching norm is quite didactic. Already we have noticed important changes. Benches have been replaced by low tables and small chairs (provided in part by a local charity) while the younger children have mats on the floor. Early days, but we sense a more playful atmosphere in the classrooms and playground.

We currently have just one qualified teacher, the headmaster Mr Badje, an untrained assistant who is with us on a trial basis and a voluntary helper who does one morning a week. We are shortly recruiting a second qualified teacher and we hope eventually to have three qualified teachers, together with more input from helpers.

Thanks to our generous donors, the basic infrastructure of the school is nearly complete. We have two classroom blocks, toilets, a secure compound and at least a basic amount of teaching necessities and equipment. However, the playground is still like a building site and we have no water, so the immediate need is to deal with these two issues.

Most pressing is a borehole and we hope to begin digging that very soon as the project is already funded.
Our second project is to clear the playground and provide basic play equipment such as swings, see-saw, basket ball posts, football goal posts etC. Included here is painting the wall with suitable images and text.
Thirdly, we would like to build a shaded outside area with seating for small group activities.
And fourthly, develop garden areas where the children could assist in simple gardening projects.
Finally, we need to improve classroom facilities - more low tables and chairs, mats for small group play activities, accessible shelving for each classroom and storage shelving for the offices and storerooms.
Longer term, the Trust would like to build its own Lower Basic School ensuring smooth progression at the age of 7. At the moment there are not enough places locally and getting to Gunjur village where places might be found is beyond the reach of most local residents.

Funding is still needed for the projects outlined above.
As these are completed, however, the Trust’s needs will shift towards regular annual expenditure - salaries for teachers and other staff, purchase of teaching materials and maintenance of infrastructure to name but a few - and with this in mind, we’d particularly welcome regular monthly contributions.
School meals. At the moment we do not provide meals for the children but in a poor place like The Gambia, many of the children come to school hungry. It is in fact, common practice for Nursery Schools to provide a meal and although a costly option, it is certainly on our list of future goals.


Ken and Alice Wright

Sambuyang Gambia Nursery School Association
Kenali Community Schools Trust