A TEACHER has returned from the journey of a lifetime to set up links with a Gambian school.
Debbie Arnold, director of studies at Heathland School, Accrington, travelled to the African country with her husband Robert, a sales engineer.
Debbie met with the headmaster of a Tanij School and took much-needed supplies of teaching materials for the pupils. The mum said she was overawed by the experience and said the school was immensely grateful for the gifts of pencils, crayons and notebooks, which had been donated by youngsters from Heathland School.
The headmaster told Debbie, who lives in Pendle, that they had thanked Allah for her visit and the children showed their appreciation for the gifts with a song.
The school has 1,025 pupils, but can only accomodate 500 at any time, so the youngsters receive just half-a-day's education each. Children in the Gambia are only required to start school at seven years old. Although the Government provides basic text books, parents are required to pay for and supply writing equipment and exercise books. But this is impossible for most families, who often cannot even afford to eat.
Debbie is now determined to raise the £4,500 the school needs to build an extension to the existing facilities and pupils at Heathland are keen to help out.
Vice-principal at Heathland, Jacquie Hide, said: "We hope to get all our pupils involved in fund-raising activities. This interaction with another school will benefit everybody. Our pupils will learn about other cultures and develop life skills."