How Sponsorship works
STUDENT SPONSORSHIP SCHEME
EDUCATION IN THE GAMBIA
In Gambian government schools, teachers’ wages are paid by the state. The cost of the upkeep of the school is paid by the parents. Although the school fees are not high and some are free, many children never have the opportunity to go to school because the parents cannot afford the fees, the cost of uniforms and other basic school items.
The children we select will usually have lost one or both parents or have no parents at work.
Some sponsors, I believe, think that what FoTGA does is straightforward, collecting money in the UK and handing out money to deserving Gambian students for their education. A simple matter of passing money from A to B.
If only it were so.
A sponsorship scheme, such as ours, is complicated to set up and run efficiently.
At the heart of our scheme is the fostering of a one-to-one relationship between the sponsor and the sponsored child and their family.
Sponsors do not just put money into one big fund which we dole out as we think fit.
FoTGA supports over 100 students (120 at the end of 2019) and some teachers.
Some of our students have no sponsors.
Each term we receive many school reports. These are scrutinised and passed on to the sponsors with a commentary. If a child’s academic performance is good this is highlighted. If a child’s academic performance has fallen away, the cause is investigated, possible remedial action is proposed and put into action; this might include the involvement of the sponsor.
To do this we need well trained staff in our office in The Gambia and knowledgeable volunteer workers in the UK.
School children will need money for:-
- Possibly School fees
- School uniforms (usually two)
- Books-although some are provided
- External examination fees for older students
- Money for a meal at lunchtime
Progression from one grade to the next is usually dependant on the student successfully completing the year’s work. Those who reach a satisfactory standard of education at the end of Upper Basic School education can then go onto Senior Secondary School, age 16-18 which is more expensive since all books and examination fees have to be paid for. As there are far fewer Senior Secondary Schools than Basic Schools, travelling can be a further expense.
Some children may attend private schools. The sponsorship scheme pays the same standard payment based on the school type as a contribution to the costs of pupils who attend such schools.