Hope School Opening
As many of you know, 6 years ago I led a British Council Connecting Classrooms teacher exchange visit to Sierra Leone where I worked in 2 two schools over a period of 2 weeks.
The day before I was due to come home, in the hilled district of Kenema, approximately 70 children sat back to back, side by side, in each corner of a dark, unventilated workshop area, with no electricity, no lighting, no water, no toilets, and very little in the way of teaching and learning equipment and resources, but for them this was their opportunity to gain an education, and it was the thing that they valued the most. It was their greatest treasure.
On my return to the UK, the students and staff of Bridlington school worked really hard to raise the money to build a school that had 3 classrooms for the children, which I opened in October 2015, and as you know, over the last 2 years, we have been raising money needed to build 3 more classrooms.
The school now has a total of 6 classrooms, electricity via a generator, lighting, toilets and fresh water from a new water well.
There are many things we share between our 2 different cultures, and many things we can learn from each other.
Firstly, we live within a democratic system where we vote for a leader and government who puts laws into place for our own good and wellbeing.
The people of Sierra Leone have recently elected a new President who has made a new law that all children in Sierra Leone should have a free education, which is great news for the country. Before this law, only those who could afford to pay for education were able to get good jobs.
Young people now have individual liberty and freedom to learn so that they can gain the skills and qualifications they need to get a good job in the future in order to be able to support themselves and their families. This will enable them to move out of poverty.
One of the wonderful things for me to see as a teacher every time I have gone to Sierra Leone has been the sight of young Christian and Muslim children, having complete mutual respect and tolerance for each other’s faith and beliefs.
They may live in one of the world’s poorest countries, and we may live in one of the world’s richest countries, but there is a lot we can learn from them concerning our attitude to education and the way we treat each other, despite having different views, opinions and beliefs.
During the official opening of the new classrooms, Mrs Parker-Randall spoke about our school motto which is ‘They hand on the torch of life’ and how we very much believe that we should do all we can to ignite the spark in others and then work hard to fan that spark into flames and see it burn brightly for others. Bridlington School’s partnership with Hope School is actually our school motto in action. Hope School’s motto is ‘That they all may be one.’ Together, in partnership, we are one and together we are handing on the torch of life in all we do, not just for today but forever.”
Having raised all the money needed over 6 years, which came to a total of £34,000 to build the whole school, we now very much look forward to joint learning projects through connecting classrooms.