In Western countries, high-quality education is usually taken for granted. In many developing countries, however, there is little or no investment in education. This means that many children and young people don’t acquire the necessary knowledge which will allow them later on to apply for a decent job where they will be paid properly.
In The Gambia, attending school isn’t mandatory. The government provides funds to build schools but the financial resources are insufficient, so the quality of both education and infrastructure are generally inadequate. Most of the classrooms and buildings are often in poor condition and usually too small, thus sometimes lessons are given to 50 – 100 children at the same time. These schools are also lacking basic necessities like chalk, pens, and notebooks.
Unfortunately, many families can’t afford the school fees. As a result, these children will never have access to education. Besides the small contribution for supplies, the parents also have to purchase a school uniform which increases the overall cost even more. For many rural households, the decision is simple, since putting the children to work in the country or the household is often necessary.
My photo story is located in the Picca Nursery School in the village of Kerr Sering. The school is supported by a Belgian humanitarian aid organization. In 2003, at the start of this project, they rented some classrooms in a local building. After two years, they decided to build their own school in order to provide all the necessary basic comfort to the children. Land was bought from a local owner and the construction started in Spring 2006. The new school has been officially opened in April 2009 and approved by the Jammeh Foundation.
The organization raises funds through a yearly fundraising event, donations, the sales of postcards and local craftswork. The money is used to pay the teacher’s wages and training, the maintenance of the building, the installation of a water pump in order to provide clean drinking water, and to supply material for the medical post.