Education Changes Lives

On Wednesday 1st May Allington WI’s talk was “Education Changes Lives – The story of the David School, Sierra Leone” given by WI member, Judith Baron. It was a very thought-provoking, informative, well presented and extremely interesting talk.

After some background information about Sierra Leone – one of the poorest countries in the world – she told the story of how Rotarian David Wallwork (in the above photo), a retired secondary school headmaster (and friend of Judith’s for nearly 50 years), visited in 2006, and on a trip “up country” to Mile 26 found a community living in very basic lean-to huts roofed in palm leaves, with no clean water – in fact no facilities at all, and the nearest school two hours’ walk away. He decided he could help by raising the money to build a primary school which would provide high quality, free, co-ed primary schooling for the community with no corporal punishment, using Sierra Leone teachers, and following Sierra Leone curriculums and exams, plus Health Education.

The tribal chief and elders thought this was an excellent idea, and two years later, the school opened with about 120 pupils, and was named the David School by the community. At the same time wells were dug and basic latrines provided. Soon after the school opened, David set up a UK based charity called The David School Trust to fund the school, which spends all it gets on the school, its community and shipping expenses. With the help of family and many friends, organisations, businesses and Rotary clubs, the school has gone from strength to strength. There is now a secondary school, and in 2022 a Senior Secondary Academy was opened to prepare students for university applications. Over 600 students are now registered, and are taught in two shifts: primary and secondary classes until 2.00 pm, and then Academy classes. The Sierra Leone Government have recognised the standard of the education provided, and the David School also trains student teachers.

The latrines have been replaced by a shower block, with flush toilets and wash basins, something totally alien to the pupils to begin with. The problems with girls not going onto secondary education have been addressed by providing menstrual care products, and education is provided for the community’s adults to allow them to be more self-sufficient. Through this school, now over 17 years’ old, David has changed the lives of many individuals, some of which were highlighted by Judith, as well as rising the self-esteem and pride of the whole community at Mile 36. Some of the members got quite emotional by this whole story – “education certainly changes lives”.

More information can be found at Next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 5th June 2024 – Speaker – Sheila Browne and dog – Hearing Dogs for Deaf People – Open Meeting, 7.30 for a 7.45 pm start, at Allington Village Hall and all visitors are welcome to attend, at a fee of £5.00.

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