The Hope Nursery School is situated in the village of Latri Kunda in the West of Gambia.
Latri Kunda is itself within the great urban sprawl of Serrekunda, where a lot of the Gambian population live. Electricity and water are intermittent commodities in this part of the township and decent sanitation is most often a hole in the ground. The people are mostly pre-occupied with the daily struggle for food and have little money for extra’s. In Gambia many different languages are spoken such as Wolof, Mandinka and Fula. If a child cannot read and write English when they go to Secondary Education then they have little chance of gaining any qualifications or employment in the future.This is why this nursery education from 3 to 8 is so important as it determines the eventual level of success the child can achieve.
The Hope Nursery School was established in December 1997 by two cousins, Mr Amida Koroma and Mr Joseph Kajue, two refugees from the civil war in Sierra Leone. They named the school ‘Hope’ to give hope to the Gambian children they would be teaching and to give themselves hope for a new future.
From January to March 2008 Fiona Goff was able to visit the school on a regular basis, helping the children with their English.
Primary education in The Gambia is funded entirely by the parents, who pay a school fee for each child, and by the generosity of tourists who may visit some of the schools, bringing gifts of pencils, paper and small gifts of money.
Life is hard in The Gambia and most parents are without work and struggle to afford to send their children to school. If the teachers recieve no fees then they often have to go hungry.
During Fiona’s stay with the school, some of the children had to be excluded for non payment of several months fees. Also during this time, the headmaster lost his home and had to resort to living in a porch-way while his family moved else-where.
A whole years’ fees costs less than £35:00 per child!
Hope School has not had an easy existance. In July 2000, a heavy storm flooded the orginal school building and washed it away. They lost all their equipment and had to move to their present location in a video hall used to show films during the evening.
In January 2006, during the Christmas break, disaster struck again when a careless smoker at a disco ignited fuel for the generator and all the schools equipment was destroyed by the fire.
Even now it has not been possible to replace much equipment and all the school has is two small blackboards, as their only teaching aids. The lack of facilities in the video hall is barely suitable for a place of childrens’ education. There are no toilets, wash rooms, medical facilities and the building has little space for the children to run about safely. All this and a steady rain of termites dropping out of the