Amin Kef-Ranger: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 December 2021
A United Kingdom based Charity Trust known as the Sierra Leone Poverty Alleviation Charity Trust (SALPACT), has come to the rescue of a primary school in Freetown – the Rural Education Committee School, commonly referred to as REC Primary School which is situated in Gloucester Village, Western Rural District of Sierra Leone.
In an exclusive interview with the Headmistress of the Primary School, Madam Lydia Jackson-Braima, she intimated this reporter that a few months ago, a news medium – Sierra Network TV: ‘Talk to The Camera’, visited the school and conducted an interview with the headmistress and teachers about the plight of the children and conditions at the school.
The Headmistress told this reporter that it wasn’t long after the ‘Talk to The Camera’ video had gone viral on social media, that one of the Trustees of the Sierra Leone Poverty Alleviation Charity Trust (SALPACT) – Captain John Dalby and his wife, visited the school and engaged with the authorities about how best SALPACT can help alleviate some of the problems the children at the school were experiencing.
“Although the needs vary but the one that suddenly came to mind was that which has to do with school furniture, that is desks and chairs,” she disclosed and explained that the school had for a considerable period of time, struggled with inadequate furniture to provide enough sitting accommodation for the pupils. She said that this has been a big challenge for the school, and previous attempts to solve it proved futile.
Madam Lydia Jackson-Braima said that following the visit of Captain John Dalby, the school was then linked with the Board of Trustees of SALPACT, which then decided to come to the aid of the school by funding the construction and supply of one hundred desks and benches for the children.
“Members of the Trust made arrangement with a local carpenter in Freetown to produce the furniture for the kids and as we speak all have been delivered and they seem to be durable,” she intimated with a big smile on her face.
She also informed that the total amount of money which was expended for the production of all the furniture was Forty-One Million Leones, maintaining that had it not been for the timely intervention of SALPACT they would still be grappling with insufficient desks and chairs at the school.
“As you are aware since the introduction of the Free Quality Education Initiative by the Government the number of children being enrolled into primary school has increased considerably but there is no corresponding increase in furniture which is why the issue of sitting accommodation featured prominently as a felt need,” she elucidated, adding that as a matter of fact the classroom blocks must expanded to cope with the increasing number of pupils which according to her currently stands at 403 pupils.
The Headmistress, teachers and children at the school, expressed profound thanks and appreciation to the Board of Trustees of SALPACT, especially the visit by Captain John Dalby who assessed the needs of the school on behalf of the Board of Trustees, which then made the decision to provide a whopping Forty-One Million Leones (Le41 million) funding, as well as making arrangements for the production and supply of the 100 desks and chairs for the REC Primary School in Gloucester Village.
“Words cannot express how your intervention has provided relief for us. Effective learning cannot take place where basic things to make it happen are lacking. You have done a great thing for our future leaders, and it is only God Almighty that will richly bless you for your humane gesture,” the Headmistress emotionally expressed gratitude to SALPACT, adding that the furniture will be judiciously utilized for the intended purpose.
She disclosed that the school has performed impressively in public exams securing 90% passes furthering that they are doing everything possible to ensure that the pupils are well educated.
Class Six pupils of the school demonstrated seating on the benches and one of them, Momoh Kamara, also thanked SALPACT on behalf of the school children for coming to their rescue.
The Sierra Leone Poverty Alleviation Charitable Trust (SALPACT) was established on the 15th of August 2017, in response to the deadly mudslide which took place in Freetown, killing over 1000 people, leaving thousands more homeless and children orphaned.
The aim of SALPACT is to promote the advancement of education and help prevent or relieve poverty in Sierra Leone – especially child poverty, by providing grants to local charities working to prevent or relieve poverty.
The Charity recently provided over Le30 million funding support for the planting of fruit trees by schools in rural Freetown.
SALPACT has also provided funding for the care of the elderly at the King George’s Home.
With the generous support of donors and friends from around the world, the Trust is raising funds to help build and promote a better society in Sierra Leone.
Speaking to this medium, the Chairman of SALPACT – Mr Abdul Rashid Thomas, called on diasporans to step up support for education in Sierra Leone and to copy the example of trustees of SALPACT.
“If every Sierra Leonean living abroad can adopt a primary school in Sierra Leone and provide the necessary funding support to meet the needs of the children, in ten years’ time Sierra Leone will no longer be classed among the worst countries in Africa for literacy,” Mr Abdul Rashid Thomas said.
The Board of Trustees of SALPACT is made up of:
Mr Abdul Rashid Thomas, editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph – who is the Founder and Chairman of the Trust.
Dr. Babatunde Gbolade
Dr Victor Labor
Dr Abdul Anasa Sesay
Dr Fawzia Iyamide Thomas (Treasurer)
Captain John Dalby
Ibilola Campbell (Secretary)
- Beryl Juma MBE