Discovery Summer has funded the building of a Primary and Junior High school in Freetown, Sierra Leone in conjunction with ActionAid
There are now some 800+ children with access to education in their community
Discovery Summer is proud to have rebuilt the Kola Tree Community Primary School, which opened in September 2010, with ActionAid as partners to oversee the project locally.
Two years later we built a much-needed Junior High School in the same compound. They now have a total of 12 classrooms, an administration building for staff, a library, two separate wells for fresh drinking water - and girls' and boys' toilets. Over 800 children how receive education that they would otherwise have been denied. And the school is getting good results each year in the Government exams.
Due to the success of the schools, land encroachment became a problem, so we recently supported the community further by building a perimeter wall around the school compound. The ensures the safety and wellbeing of all the children attending the schools.
Making a statement on behalf of the community, the community development committee chairperson Mama Fatu Sesay, highlighted how the school started
"Today is the happiest day in my life. For a very long time, we never had a school in this community. Children used to attend school in other communities. In the early 90s one mission set up a church in an unfinished building in the community. After some negotiations with the mission we were allowed to use the building as a non-formal school. We started with 30 children and were running the school from community contributions. We also hired one teacher. The mission attempted to take over the running of the school but could not continue because of lack of funds. So the school closed down in 1994.
Around 1995, CADO, with support from ActionAid, came and trained community animators on the use of participatory tools. Using these tools, we all came to an agreement that the school was our priority need. We took over an old poultry shed and set up a second school. We had many challenges such as the lack of furniture and learning materials. Children were asked to come with benches from their homes. This time, we employed two trained and qualified teachers because the number was increasing and we wanted to gain recognition from the Government. The school suffered another setback when the rebels attacked in 1999; the school was completely vandalised and the head teacher killed. We had to close again. We were able to start all over again in 2000 when ActionAid supported us with construction, teaching and learning materials. Since then we started pushing for government recognition and support. The other serious problem we had was the non availability of land for school construction. We had to organise ourselves as community people and met the Minister of Lands who later gave us a portion of land where this school stands today.
I nearly burst into tears when ActionAid in 2009 said they had secured funding for the construction of the first school in my community. Now that both schools are completed I feel very proud because all our efforts for the past years have yielded fruit. Our children can now access free and quality education. As a member of the School Management Committee, we will monitor the teachers so that they can teach the children well, as well as ensuring that all children in this community go to school. We are going to work with the councillor and chief to see that this happens. Thanks to ActionAid and Discovery Summer for the wonderful opportunity given to this community."
In order to support the schools and the local community, Discovery Summer centres undertake ambitious fundraising efforts each summer. Some organise charity fundraising days, others donate proceeds from their tuck shop, create magazines to sell to parents as well as organising many other imaginative fundraising events. The funds raised are then matched by Discovery Summer.
Each year we consult the Kola Tree Headmaster and community. Most recently, funds have gone towards:
Discovery Summer regularly engages with the local community to find out what they most need to support education in the Kola Tree Community.
Our target for 2020 is to raise £10,000.
If you would like to donate to this very worthwhile cause, please contact us.
Freetown was first twinned with Hull (UK) in 1980 and a recent initiative has seen the exchange of Heads and teachers from Freetown and Hull to spend a week in a school in the other city. This project, now in its second year, has three years' funding from The British Council, and Kola Tree Community School is lucky enough to have been twinned with the excellent Bellfield Community School in Hull.
In March 2019, Eric Sallu Nalo, Headmaster of Kola Tree Primary School, spend a week in Hull, observing classes, seeing how the school was run and getting a taste of the community engagement. Although there is a wide gap in terms of both schools' facilities and resources, Eric was warmly welcomed and was given lots of ideas as to what could be introduced in his school on his return.
When asked what he'd enjoyed in particular, he said "fish and chips. In Freetown we have fish and we have chips - but here you make them so, so tasty". Fishing is evidently not all past history in Hull.