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Term ending 20th July 2018

One of the last events of each year at Sunrise is the Graduation Ceremony for Skills Training Year 3's who are leaving Sunrise to start their lives in their first jobs. Thankfully many (around 70%) already have promises from employers who have helped us by providing work experience places during term 2.

 The first picture shows students waiting in the crowded but beautifully decorated hall with around 200 people, for the ceremony to begin.



At this time of year we always run the risk of the first rains dampening the event, though it was dry this year. Of the 30 students who completed the course, GETS helped 12 individuals with fully funded places, though we also subsidise every place in order to keep school fees to parents as low as possible.


The people on the top table are those who represent some important groups who have supported us. From left to right in the picture are:-

Kemo Jawara (London Corner Nursery School)

Mr Mboge (School Management Council Chairman)

Nyhally Samateh (Guest Speaker )

Madam Fatajo (NAWEC Director's wife)

Malleh Sabally (Dept of Education - Cluster Monitor)


We had food and cakes of course, to cut. One was sponsored by Jama Ceesay's and Sainabou Kebbeh's work experience employers - Larry's Fashions and  Jennifer Ofilli .



 Another was made in Sunrise by the students (with the Sun on it!)



Some students posed for individual pictures -


Binta Goddard


Mariama Badjie



We had a group photo too.



This is the last blog entry for this academic year as the term finishes on 20th July for the summer (often called the Green season by the tourist industry or the rainy season by locals).


We will begin to capture some then events that happen next term when the Academic Year of 2018/9 gets under way with new opportunities and some challenges.


Week ending 29th June 2018

Last week the big event in Sunrise was the Graduation day of the oldest children in Lower Basic (Primary). These children are aged 13+ and some have been with us at Sunrise for 8 years now. They are shown firstly in the picture at the start of this year with their class teacher, Mr Ousman Jaiteh.

 Guests, parents and other school friends came together in a beautifully dressed hall area to celebrate the end of the LB6 classes time at The Sunrise Centre and their Graduation onto the next level of schooling available locally, either from the state or from private institutions.

The top table of dignitaries were as follows from left to right:-

Mr Mboge  (School Management Committee chairman)

Isatou Lamarana Jallow (School Management Committee treasurer)

Alkali Cham (Sunrise Educational Director)

Nakulang Ceesay (Guest Speaker from Gambia College0

Malleh Sabally (Cluster Monitor or school Inspector)

Malick Joof  (Master of Ceremony from Bakoteh Proper School)



The 30 students are shown waiting in the Hall, reasonably patiently, for everything to come together.

There was food of course, for everyone of the 200+ attendees. This then becomes a major logistical and quite costly challenge to organise a great party, headed up by a lovely Graduation cake.

 After all the speeches, managed by Malick Joof (our Master of Ceremony)the class of Lower Basic Grade 6 were each presented with a Graduation Certificate and proudly posed in the final picture to show these off.

Week ending 22nd June 2018

After the break last week we are now into an exam period. The Hall is used in the cooler mornings for both Skills Training and Lower Basic final term exams. No chance of cheating here, despite sharing tables because of how different the subjects are and careful invigilation.

The exams are a little early in the term but with rains around the corner and the temperatures heating up to a 38 deg C peak this week, the cool mornings in the open sided halls are essential for concentration.

 The Lower Basic children usually have session on the sports floor during their break-time, totally ignoring the climbing temperatures. Some of the boys are now pretty good at football. The girls tend to play tennis ball games at this age.



Every day the Sunrise Cook Susan Jarju prepares food and drink for the Nursery children, sponsored by supporters of GETS so free of charge to children.


A fairly patient line of Nursery children wait to gather up a sandwich and an orange drink.

Week ending 8th June 2018

It’s nice to see the children enjoying life in school.  In Nursery 2 the children have been learning their numbers up to 20.  Aji Betty Drammeh was clearly thinking hard about the questions that her teacher was posing.


Later N2 also did some great colouring too and it was impressive to see the care put into the drawings by the children.



At break-time every day we have a regular troop of ladies from the local community selling food and drinks to the children and students to supplement the sandwiches produced by our kitchen. One of our long time regulars is “Auntie” Chris (Christianna). She is a Nigerian Christian. Sitting with “Auntie” is our latest Caretaker, Ebrima Sanyang, in his Union Jack woolly hat.


The Nursery children all try and wear off some of the energy that comes from eating by feverish playground activity at break-time. Today the see-saws were getting a hard time as part of their work-out!


Next week we have a break from school as the end of the Holy month of Ramadan comes to an end and some families travel back to their local villages to celebrate the end of the month long, day-time fast for adults with the special day known as Koriteh (properly known as Eid al-Fitr). Prayers then celebrations and feasting usually follow.

Week ending 1st June 2018

At the weekend we organised our final delivery of oyster shells to complete the surface of the entrance to Sunrise. This is the 3rd lorry load of these expensive items but they have worked really well, preventing mud in school and draining water away in the rains.

The process of loading the lorry at Denton Bridge (near Banjul) is all done by hand before the tipping lorry travels to Bakoteh and Sunrise to deposit a completely full batch. We supervise all of this to ensure that the lorry is really full. No weigh bridges here of course!

Thanks to the boys in skills training, supervised by Mr Cham (Ed Director) who came in on Saturday to spread the shells, once again to complete a great finish.



Twice a week we have Nursery Assembly. It is always carefully organised because trying to get 90 under 6 year olds to stand still and in lines is quite an achievement. I’m always amazed at just how well it works. Today our Classroom Assistant is managing the singing for the children. They always seem to enjoy it!

 Later in the week Tony managed to catch one of the children going home from her LB3 class. They had been making hats in craft and the picture shows Aji Jainaba Nyang looking somewhat bemused at the request for a snap.





Week ending 25th May 2018

The Lower Basic children always have an important test every year to check standards across all the schools in the country, called National Assessment Tests (NATs). One year the LB Grade 3 do it (aged 8-9) and the following year LB Grade 5 (aged 10-11) do the test, so that all children are eventually tested at one or the other level.

This year it was the turn of LB5. Mr Saidy has been preparing them and part of that is a mock exam over the Friday and Saturday last weekend. The children laid out tables in the Hall to set up exam conditions . . . . . . . and the results were excellent:-

English                                  97% passed
Maths                                   90% passed
Integrated Studies                97% passed
Science                                 87% passed

We hope that they can do this well, or even better, in the real exam in June.

One of our most experienced First Aiders is Sulayman Jobe, shown here auditing the first aid boxes. He is sometimes called upon to help children who hurt themselves in the hustle and bustle of life, playtime and PE lessons that are part of Sunrise every day.

Skills Training Tie and Dye practical work continues with students from Years 2 using sewing and also plastic wrapping to keep dyes away from some of the cloth to produce patterns. Dyes are carefully applied to specific areas before being “fixed” and the protection removed.




After dyeing the cloth all these stitches have to be carefully unpicked

This picture shows the quality of the finished patterns in many designs.

Skills Training Year 3 always do a First Aid Certificate course at this time of year; between completing their work placements and graduating from Sunrise. This is made possible through the wonderful relationship that we have with the charity First Aid for Gambia -  for which we are extremely grateful.
 Their Trainer, Momodou Laineh, is seen in the picture with students intently watching him show CPR techniques with a dummy, much as you would see on any first aid training course in UK.


Week ending 18th May 2018

The students from Skills Training have been working on Tie and Dye practicals this week. Skills Year 2 were working in the classroom with their teacher, Mr Saihou Darboe.

Outside the students from Year 1 had put their materials through the process and produced some excellent finished cloth. The students pay to bring in the materials so they are free to take home the finished goods to make up into dresses or whatever.

Some of the Skills 1 class posed for pictures under the clothes line to proudly show off what they had done. They often cover their uniforms in their own clothes to protect it during practical sessions.






Our friends Rudy and Yolanda from Holland brought us seeds and special containers/plugs to allow quick germination, when they visited earlier this year.

 In Lower Basic, we have been letting the children try out starting these off. Mr Jaiteh, LB6 teacher, has been the latest teacher to see what comes of these. Since the names of the seeds are in Dutch, we have had to find out what we would get!

Mrs Cham’s class, LB4, planted seeds earlier this term and now have a tray of seedlings ready to transplant. Amongst them are tomato and sunflower.

 Helen is still getting some external students coming for money to pay school fees for term 3, despite that fact that it is almost half way through. This week Jainaba Badjie came to see us to collect fees for Brikama Methodist Academy, where she is in Grade 11. Some schools seem to be much more relaxed about collecting cash than others.

Week ending 11th May 2018

  In Lower Basic 2 one of our Classroom Assistants, Yassin Jammeh, joined Mrs Darboe’s class during a Science lesson on types of soil. Yassin is actually on a full time teacher training course at Gambia College at present but has come to join us for formal teaching practice as part of her course training.  Yassin had taught a Maths lesson earlier in the day, supported by Mrs Darboe. Maths is one of her favourite subjects.


The Science class on soil types was very interesting with the Year 2 text book showing how to test for differences in soils found in The Gambia (and many other places of course).

Mrs Darboe demonstrated the differences with several difference soil samples to get her points across.



On Monday, at the end of school, we had another visit from Blessing David, a Nigerian, and her colleagues, (Mariam Faye, a Gambian and Fabiola Pfaeffli from Swistzerland). Blessing was representing an organisation called Girls Pride Foundation which is seeking to discuss good relationships, sexual abuse, pride and dignity. This compliments the work that we already do at Sunrise through Mr Darboe’s Life Skills course. Blessing hopes to run a club amongst the Skills Training Students (aged 15-25 years) to encourage a wider debate on these topics over the coming weeks.


 In the Hall the space was being used again for spreading out Bassin cloth to be marked up, prior to sewing and dyeing patterns of many sorts. The photo shows Fatou Sanyang from Skills 1 intent on her work.







Week ending 4th May 2018

Every week we have assemblies in the Hall for each of our schools. Apart from singing activities, many things are also discussed at these events and it always ends with the singing of the Gambian National Anthem.

 This week Tony took pictures of the Lower Basic School children singing with Mr Williams (he is also our school choir master) and then at the end of the Nursery assembly when the teachers carefully manage the children back towards class.


The flower beds along-side the Hall area have been replanted  by Mr Mboge, one of our caretakers, who is interested in gardening. He has also helped us with planting some new trees within the school. We now have to carefully water these during the remains of the dry season but from July onwards, heavy rains will help to establish all these plants.


Nursery PE was another activity captured this week and it looks like our Classroom Assistant, Mbacho Jallow, is “herding cats” as the expression goes.




 This week in the Hall we also had an exhibition by the Skills Training Year 3 students of their final practicals for Cookery. They made things like Chicken Afra, beef stir-fry with noodles and baobab juice, battered fish and chips and chicken wraps (Shawarma locally).

Students posed in various groups, including the whole class, around the food and the staff were quick to do a final taste test too, of course.



 Week ending 27th April 2018

The Nursery teachers followed up their visit to Banjul Airport and the beach during the previous week by asking the older children to draw pictures of the day out. Mady Mbye (N3) produced the best of these drawings, shown here.


The Skills Training Year 3 students have now returned from their work placements in the Tailoring or Tourist Industry sectors. We were delighted to find that around 70% of the students had been offered the chance to go back to work after school has completed. Some were even working for employers immediately after school already. This is a great result for the students, Sunrise staff and for GETS too.

 We are now offering registration of school places for the 2018/19 academic year. We have very few places except in our N1 entry class and first year of Skills Training because very few who join us then drop out.




This week the 180 Lower Basic children and staff went off to Kachikally Crocodile Pool. They left Sunrise on coaches to travel to the Bakau area to visit the pool and learn about the lives of these reptiles and the sacred pool.

The children had to queue quietly to enter the pool area in a long line.

They listened intently to the explanations, asked questions, took notes and drew pictures.

They asked questions like “What was the age of the oldest crocodile and does it have a name?”, asked by Beatrice Loum. The answer came back – “Charlie is 75 years old!”.

Later the LB children went onto the beach to play and have a picnic.

Week ending 20th April 2018

School has now restarted after an extended Easter Holiday, for local council elections, and despite warm sunshine in the middle of the day, the mornings and evenings are quite cool. The children generally come well wrapped up as a result of this.

3rd Year Skills Training Students are coming back to school after their work placements in Term 2 with local businesses. Some have been kept on during the evenings and weekends and others have had offers of long term jobs, proving that they have made a useful contribution to the business where they have worked and that there are vacancies. We were pleased that Fatou Ceesay received a certificate of appreciation from her employer (Maroun’s Bakery). Fatou said she had really enjoyed herself and learnt a lot.

This week the 90 Nursery children went with their teachers and some extra helpers to Banjul Airport to see how it operated. 

They were very excited of course when they left Sunrise and were split into groups.



They arrived at the Airport by coach and reformed their groups before going into Airport Departures for explanations about how an airport works.

Here they are entering the Departure Lounge with their teachers, Fatou Sanneh and Kaddy Jawara.

Later the children went off to the “Wide Vision” beach at Brufut for fun and games by the sea. They also ate a picnic of course, prepared by the staff before they left school.