Lower Basic School Fence
- The Gambia
The parents, teachers and pupils of the village Lower Basic School need a safe and friendly school to provide access to quality education for children including 200 girls. However, the school is presently unsecured from many sides, and motorcycles speed through and animals and people roam throughout the school campus due to an eroding fence structure. It is essentially a thoroughfare at the moment. This has created a risky environment for children in the school especially during the break time. The constant noise distracts children in their respective lessons and negatively impacts their performances. Many parents are worried to send their children, particularly girls to school because of the unsafe environment for learning. A fence will also enhanced the production of fruits and vegetables within the school compound. The garden and orchard will be use as a teaching and learning tools for the 83 Agricultural and Environmental (AE) Club members, of which 44 are girls. As a farming community these infrastructures may be used as teaching and learning tools which will facilitate the learning environment to be concrete and relevant to the lives of the children, and in turn, this will improve the skills and knowledge of the girl to support mothers with their home garden, which served as a main source of income for mothers to support their girls education.
It can also help to contribute to a rise in the enrollment of children since parents will be able to associate what the children are doing and learning with agriculture, which is their everyday living. This strong infrastructural development will enhance safety and security to create an environment for children to focus on learning to improve their performances, including the 200 girls in the school. The community members and school staff will join together to secure the school by constructing a stronger fence structure. The village will be contributing largely to the construction of the fence, not limited to: masonry, block making, and sand and gravel transportation. Additionally, the project also included a capacity development component and the PCV will work with the School Management Committee and Mothers' Club to improve the administration of the school as well as strengthen community engagement to improve enrollment in school before the beginning of the next academic year. The main objective of the project is to ensure that by the beginning of the FY2020/21 academic year the community school will have a safer and healthier learning environment for children.
The expected potential outcomes included but are not limited to: (i) improving the learning environment for children who are currently exposed to risk of accidents, (ii) providing a secured environment to grow vegetables to improve their school lunch bowls, (iii) providing access to learning materials for their environmental lessons, (iiii) securing an environment to grow mango and cashew trees to further improve school lunch bowls and pay for minor upkeep at the school. All these will increase access to education as well as improve the quality of learning environment for all children. The fence and agriculture plots will be maintained using village groups (Mother's Club and School Management Committee). The Mother's Club will also be responsible for selling produce collected from the agriculture plots and orchards and returning the money to the school to be used to supplement school lunches and supplies (chalk, books etc) as well as supporting the needy children, particularly girls because they come as second priority after boys in households where there is limited income to support both to attend school. In addition, the PCV and counterpart will host after school lessons on vegetable production practices to enhance the skills and knowledge of the student to improve their home garden production, and with the secured environment at the school, it will strengthen the club activities.
The Lower Basic School Staff, School Management Committee, and Mother's Club are all working together to design the fence and work to ensure sustainability. These meetings began in March 2019 and continue to be held once a month when school is in session. The project was identified as a way to improve the safety of the school, generate income for the school and improve nutrition. The community is holding frequent meetings to discuss the design, implementation, and sustainability of the project. The community members will contribute $996 in both cash and kind. They will be making all the cement blocks, transporting sand and gravel, and working at a significant discount to build the fence. Funds will be raised to maintain the fence. The proceeds will be kept to be used from time to time. These fundraisers will be organized by the School Management Committee. Produce will be sold by the Mother's Club and returned to the school to be used to supplement school lunches. In the summer months when school is not in session and there are no teachers present, the School Management Committee and Mother's Club will continue to maintain the agriculture work. The school environment subcommittee within the School Management Committee to be responsible for the maintenance of the fence.