Meet the Jallows
When you turn
on the television, open a newspaper or flip through a magazine, if
there is a story about development in Africa, the developer is
probably non-African. This is not always the case.
Momodou Jallow and Ndeye Secca-Jallow are examples of self development
taking place in Africa. The Gambian couple is helping to raise
the standard of education in the economically-challenged
West African country through the Alhaji Mamour Secca Memorial
Nursery/Lower Basic School.
In 1989, when
they started the school in the Old Jeshwang neighborhood outside of
Banjul, the capital city, their home’s sitting room doubled as their
first classroom. Today, two permanent structures house the 226-pupil
nursery and lower basic schools named after Ndeye’s father, who was a
public health worker.
government provides free education for children ages 6 to 12, and for a
limited number of girls beyond age 12, many parents opt for less-crowded
private schools such as Secca Memorial. “Our intentions have always
been to complement the government’s effort to bring education to the
doorstep of every citizen,” asserts Momodou. He ended his retirement to
work with the school.
As a private
school, Secca Memorial’s income comes from school fee payments. Nursery
fees run 1,650 dalasis ($62) per year, while the lower basic fees run
2,400 dalasis ($90) per year. The typical worker earns only 21,360
dalasis ($800) per year.
“Some students do not pay regularly or promptly,” added Ndeye. With an
annual budget of about D363,000 ($13,600) and teachers’ salaries running
D445,000 ($16,700), the Jallows are constantly chasing dalasis to fill
the D82,000 ($3,100) budget shortfall.
The couple remains committed, however, to supplementing the government’s goal to provide an education to all
students by 2015.
Note: Mr. Jallow passed in 2012.