One of the most gratifying ventures we have been involved with was the building of Pacharr Lower Basic school. I've written about this school before so I won't repeat that here, but if you haven't heard this story (or want to hear it again - I promise it will warm your heart); you can read it HERE. In essence, the promise of universal education falls apart if the school where you start 1st grade is too far from your home to walk to. While some families who understand the value of education will simply wait until their children are older and start them late, when they are old enough to walk that far, too many will not. They will just never start at all.
With the World Bank susidizing school fees in The Gambia at the lower grades the last several years, the Gambian government now has a greater ability to send teachers to new schools since their salaries are in effect paid by the World Bank.
This was not the case when when our upcountry coordinator, Kebba Sanyang, started working with the community of Pacharr to get a school built for their community. Nevertheless, build it they did. The children of Pacharr would now attend grades 1 to 3 in their village school, after which they would be old enough to move on to St. Therese's in Fula Bantang for the upper grades.
About a year after the Pacharr school opened as a full-fledged grade Lower Basic Cycle School, a binder arrived at Kebba's office at St. Therese's.
Inside was what may have been the clearest and simplest application I have ever read. It was from the Alkalo (village chief) of Njie Kunda, a village somewhat further from Fula Bantang than Pacharr, in the opposite direction.
The appeal was simple: a list of the names, dates of birth, and villages of more than 100 students who were not in school in Njie Kunda and two neighboring villages, along with a map of land that the alkalo was offering, on which a school could be built.