By Katy, a supporter
What a pleasure it was to visit The Gambia for the first time, primarily to see the Mariama Mae Pre-School in Gunjur.
In a corner of what we would call a very large primary school, within the branches of two Baoba trees, lay a Gambia pre-school. You can see that this pre-school has been carefully planned and resourced with Gambian children aged four to seven years in mind.
There are two buildings. The first is divided into class one and class two, and also includes an office and two storage rooms. Class three for the older children is in a separate building across the yard. In between is a building decorated with colour paintings of flowers and containing two porcelain toilets. The classrooms are situated on a perfect sized plot which allows the children freedom at play time; it has shade from a mango tree and a raised seating area around which is a mosaic of broken tiles for decoration. New to the playground is a large sand pit, a guaranteed hit with children world wide.
On entering the preschool I find the atmosphere welcoming, and notice the 'preschool buzz' straight away. I feel happy here and I can tell that the children are happy to be at school. They have the correct attitude to assist learning through play and discovery.
Work and projects decorate the rooms from all angles. The resources in the classroom have been carefully chosen and reflect their nationality. Book shelves with reading schemes focused around African life and story books about African animals and people.
The principle teacher is a friendly, warm and approachable lady who has chosen her team well and seems to effortlessly run the school in a calm manner.
Congratulations to everybody involved in making Mariama Mae Pre-School such a wonderful example of a Gambian pre-school. I am sure this school, if not already, will become a model for other developing pre-schools in The Gambia, and I am privelleged to have seen it in action and I am happy to support this school.
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The news diary is written by a number of people close to the work of the African Oyster Trust, including founder James Holden, his co-directors, trustees and volunteers.