We’ve just finished our first round of exams this second term and whilst our ‘Express Class’ sat past exam papers from WAEC and have achieved well, our JSS1 (Y7) have struggled with their exam discipline and underachieved to a large extent, leaving they and their teachers with much to do to rescue their year and gain promotion to their next class, JSS2 (Y8), for next
year. During this time, however we’ve learned that one of our girls has become pregnant and despite our best efforts she does not feel confident enough to come back to school just yet. We are still trying to help her to return. Sadly we’ve had to exclude one of our boys who was constantly absent and when he did arrive was invariably late. He brought in a succession of representatives instead of his mum, finally telling her he was on holiday and didn’t need to attend school. Hopefully, he will make a better effort next year. A word of congratulations must be extended to all our teachers who have worked so hard during this year to get the ‘best’ from our pupils. We have now completed our registration form for the Ministry of Education. We have sent copies off to four different departments and included, photos of the school building, our pupils and our staff and their qualifications as well as some moderate ‘incentives’. You will have noticed our school badge above, which we now use for our school logo on letter-headings. It is also the school badge, which all our pupils will wear on their shirt/blouse as part of their school uniform. However, each pupil has to ‘earn’ their badge by excellent academic work or through exemplary conduct or attendance and punctuality records. Until now there are still a quarter of all pupils who have yet to be awarded their school badge. We hope that they will aspire to do so before the end of this academic year.
Our temporary, tarpaulin covers on the stairwells have been savaged by storms during the Harmattan (Oct – January) and so we’ll need to ‘zinc over’ them in the next few weeks. We’ll also need to gutter them to return the rainwater into our recently deepened, concrete water tanks. We’ll probably then be able to store up to three or four month’s water supply into next year’s dry season. Another circuit of anti-rust painting on all the iron window guards is also urgently needed to ‘fight’ the salt from the sea nearby. We’ll try to ‘squeeze’ as much from our funds as we possibly can to cover these costs.
A mobile drilling machine, apparently sponsored by one of our huge, British charities, sunk almost a dozen holes in the local primary school’s compound, searching for water on land only 50 feet above sea-level. They left yesterday after a week, without finding a drop. How expensive must that have been? It bodes ill for our future water supply in this far-flung spot on the peninsula. In truth we’ve had no water from the Guma Valley Water Company for over a year now. Every week we fill our five gallon plastic drums and drive them back to school to pump into our water tanks on the library roof to service the school’s toilets and staff showers............ and yet we still have to pay our water rates.
It must be the third litter we’ve seen from the old, sandy coloured, bitch who lives along the shoreline close to the school. The pups play in the jetsam of plastic bottles, punctured, pink fenders and driftwood, amusing the local primary kids for a couple of weeks before they disappear, one by one. Today the last of the current litter, a six-inch bundle of mottled skin and bone, waits by the rocks for the next vulture to land.
PS The last puppy is still there this morning, but one of our little hens was snatched just a metre from us as we drank our morning cup of tea. No one said that ‘development’ was easy, but thanks to our supporters and donors without whom nothing would be possible, we are making the most amazing progress in our mission in Sierra Leone. Thank you all so much!
Enjoy a wonderful British Spring as we go through the heart of the ‘dry’ season in Sierra Leone. Best wishes from Mike and the Extra Mile team