Global School Partnership Launch
On Friday 28th February 2014, the YMCA National General Secretary and CEO for Sierra Leone, Mr Christian Kamara, visited Bridlington School to meet with staff and students and to formalise a partnership between BSSC and the YMCA Hope Primary School in Kenema, Sierra Leone.
According to the European Commission, Sierra Leone is ‘one of the poorest countries in the world, where income inequality is relatively high. 70% of the population live below the poverty line and 26% in extreme poverty.’
Being inspired to ‘make a difference’ by the comedian John Bishop’s televised visit to Sierra Leone as part of Sport Relief 2012, Assistant Special Educational Needs Coordinator and Global School Partnership Lead Teacher Mark Parker-Randall visited the YMCA schools in Sierra Leone last September and October 2013. Having worked in Kissy Freetown and Bo, Mr Parker-Randall was particularly stirred when he visited the school in Kenema. He explained, “The students meet and are currently taught in a workshop area that has been cleared for their schooling. There are four different classes, back to back and side by side all being taught in one room. The students who have no electricity, no running water and no toilet provision take great pride in their school uniform and very basic learning equipment. The opportunity for them to learn is the greatest and most precious treasure they have. If it were not for the work of the YMCA and Mr Kamara, those children would have no schooling or education. It was at the very moment that I saw two children with significant special educational needs, being both totally deaf and mute, seeking to learn in the most desperate and deprived circumstances that I have ever seen in education, I determined that we would formally partner and be a ‘big sister school’ to Kenema, and that we would assist them to build the school they hope and pray for. The foundations have been laid. Our students and staff will ensure the school gets built through the raising of much needed finances and provision and sharing of educational resources.”
Mr Kamara said, “We are overjoyed to have established a partnership with Bridlington School in the UK. We believe in changing lives and bringing hope to children who might not have an opportunity to acquire education to contribute to the growth and development of our country. With this new partnership we believe we can change the world and it will a better place for us all to live in regardless of race or economic opportunities. The partnership will give a much greater perspective to our children and teachers; to be able to share and learn from each other’s culture and situations. Together we can make sustainable change that is long lasting.”
Headteacher Mrs Sarah Pashley said “We are extremely excited about our new partnership with Kenema. This is a great opportunity for our students and staff to develop links with a school in a different country, with a totally different culture from ours. We hope it will increase our global awareness by allowing us to build friendships with staff and students in Kenema and learn about our different cultures. In addition, getting directly involved in raising funds to build a new school in Kenema will enable us to really make a difference to the lives of our new friends, as well as helping us to gain a whole range of important skills and experiences.”
In a special Year 7 and Year 8 assembly where partnership gifts were given and received by Mr Kamara and Mrs Pashley, tutor classes were also given £10 as a ‘seed challenge’, the challenge being to turn the £10 into the much needed £10,000 to build the new school through various enterprise activities. Mr Parker-Randall explained, “if every student and staff member were able to raise just £10 each over the next 4 months, then we will have the £10,000 for our ‘little sister school’ in Kenema. Now that’s what I call a challenge!”