TNPS is and will remain a free service for the publishing industry, and you can always be assured the content, while you may sometimes disagree with the viewpoints, is well-researched by someone deeply engaged with and passionate about the industry, and that it will be honestly presented with no hidden agenda, no affiliate links, no advertising and no upsell. But for anyone wishing to show their appreciation, donations to the Children First school project are always welcomed.
A lot of TNPS readers ask me about the StreetLib-TNPS school project and how they might help. I’ll try post regular updates, but until then here’s an insight from a post way back last year:
At the time of that post the school was just a nursery school (which here means 2/3 to 6/7 year olds), but from September we will have primary classes for Grades 1-3 (7 to 9/10 year olds).
While Children First is an absolutely-not-for-profit operation there are of course costs involved to run it. Our new fees schedule from September will be D800 (US $14.80) per term for Nursery and D1,200 ($22.20) per term for Primary students. That may not seem like much to us in the richer nations, and of course some Gambian parents can afford this, but of the 220 students attending over 100 will be on my sponsored list, attending for free, because those families – families living on barely a dollar a day, often in homes without water or electricity – cannot even afford to buy their child the daily break-time snacks (D10 – $0.18).
To be clear, school fees go towards paying the teachers. Our teachers in training earn D4,000 ($75) a month (less than $20 per week). Our qualified and experienced teachers are paid D7,000 ($130) a month (less than $33 per week). That’s for a seven-hour working day, and no paid holidays or sick leave.
We’d love to pay more but there simply is not the funding available. As it is we not only pay for 100+ children to attend free, but we provide uniforms and shoes free for all the children, and all teaching resources are provided free (unheard of in schools here).
In addition we teach to an international standard – something that is usually the preserve of the elite who can afford the crazy-expensive top private “international” schools.
Teaching resources? Things were difficult even before Covid and the collapse of the tourism industry here, and nowadays it’s nigh impossible to find any book, let alone books for young children. Fortunately I’m a writer and journalist and a former teacher and I can create all the books and worksheets we need day to day – but paper, ink, binding and laminating, pencils, crayons, etc, for 200+ children is a daily challenge.
As you might imagine, these poverty-line families cannot afford health-care, and when the children are sick or injured we try to help with medical fees too. A local pharmacy provides medicines on credit for us and I pay them back at the end of the month. But that’s for minor ailments.
One of the children in the photo at the top of this post passed away in June, after a long battle with crippling illness. Impossible to say for sure if western medicine might have saved her, but likely. But even treating minor conditions is challenging here and often injuries and ailments are left untreated because antibiotics and other basic medication we take for granted in our First World existence is simply not affordable.
And to compound matters, our school landlord (we rent the premises) has given us one year’s notice. He has other plans for the land and we need to find, build and move to a new school by next August (2023).
The local community has offered us one plot of land that we can build on, but it’s small and will be cramped. Ideally we need a much larger area so we can expand and offer education to more children. But while land and building costs are tiny compared with western prices, this is an additional financial burden we are simply not equipped to cope with.
So any assistance – how ever big or small – is always gratefully received.
Donations can be made by bank transfer per detail below, and we’ll try add some other payment options ASAP.
If you do donate, please drop an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know who you are so the children can thank you directly.
Account Name: Mark Williams Int.
Account Number: 87603756
Sort Code: 601717