MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF GAMBIA EDUCATION & TEACHING SUPPORT
HELD ON 1st SEPTEMBER 2012 AT WILBURY HALL, LETCHWORTH GARDEN CITY, HERTFORDSHIRE AT 2pm.
Debbie & Graham Bradley
Mike & Isobel Canty
Jeff & Mandy Evans
Steve and Chris Humphries
Mavis Newmarch Mike Turpin
Sue & Kevin Storr
Joyce & Ian Turner
1. Welcome by Acting Chair:
Tony Nelson welcomed attendees to the meeting with the following comments:
September 2011 saw the start of the first full academic year at the Sunrise Centre with registration for school places and sponsorship fees paid. The rains continued.
In October Daniel English, a volunteer, started a year-long attachment at Sunrise helping Mr Bah teaching English every Monday. The skills Cooking, Sewing and Tie & Dye classes started to use Bantaba and modifications to Watchmen’s hut were made. Most importantly, planning permission was given for erection of the Lower Basic School (LBS).
In November the Charity was registered in the Gambia and a new Gambian Branch formed. Mr Batchilly, the Education Director, left following completion of his probationary period - causing some student unrest for a while.
In December clearance of the site began for the start of the LBS building project and the search for a new Education Director commenced.
In February the selection process for the Education Director was completed and the successful candidate appointed. Erica Wren and Tony Bound worked tirelessly in support of the Skills Centre producing draft curricula and teaching knitting, Tony was also a crucial member of the selection team. February also saw the departure of the Tie & Dye teacher Mrs Faal and the nursery teacher Mrs Jawara return from Maternity leave.
Mr Nurudeen Mbye, the new Education Director joined the staff in March and the construction of a wall to enhance security of the Sunrise compound was approved by Bakoteh village elders.
Mr Darboe joined the staff in April as the new Tie & Dye teacher and Amie Williams started working as a volunteer helper in the Skills Centre.
June saw the completion of the roof on the LBS - just as the rains began and in July the Sunrise Centre was formally registered with the Gambia Education Department, excluding the Skills Centre, which will be registered separately with Gambia’s National Training Authority.
2. Minutes of the previous AGM held 21 August 2010:
Acceptance of the minutes was proposed by Tony Nelson, seconded by Helen Tourayand CARRIED unanimously. The Chair signed the minutes as a true record.
3. Adoption of Resolution:
The following resolution for change to the Constitution of Gambia Education and Teaching Support was unanimously ADOPTED.
G. 1 Executive Committee:
(1) ‘The Executive Committee shall consist of not less than 3 members nor more than 7 members’ be changed to:
(1) ‘The Executive Committee shall consist of not less than 3 members or more than 9 members’
4. Nomination of Officers:
Nominations had been received for Tony Nelson
Seconded by Ray Harding and CARRIED
Nominations had been received for Paul Webster
Seconded by John Skingsley and CARRIED
Nominations had been received for Ian Ward-Dutton
Seconded by Julie Limbrick and CARRIED
5. Elections to the Executive Committee:
Nominations had been received for Dawn Webster, Helen Touray and Julie Limbrick.
Seconded en bloc by Tony Bound and CARRIED.
6. Adoption of Trustee Annual Report and Annual Accounts:
The Chairman advised those present that the Independent Examiner had audited the accounts and that no material comment had been made.
Acceptance of the Report and Accounts was proposed by Maxine Weeks, seconded by Gill Perkins and ADOPTED.
The treasurer noted that although it had been anticipated that there would be a deficit of some £6,000 for 2011/12, in fact there was a surplus of some £10,000. Further, it was noted that the Sunrise element of the accounts was by far the larger portion. Nevertheless, sponsorship was still a very important element of the work done by GETS – many donors still preferred to associate their giving with an individual child rather than supporting a teacher, a class or a building. Sponsorship income overall has declined slightly over the year largely due to pupil graduations but the total number of children sponsored at 59 is slightly up on last year.
The treasurer also noted that the Independent Examiner had indicated that GETS was now becoming similar to a trading entity since it employs staff and purchases goods and services. It was further suggested that trustees might wish to consider registration as a charitable business (Incorporation). This would be a significant step for the charity and would need detailed consideration.
Of the £38K that was available at the start of the year for the LBS project – funds that had originally been set aside to support the abandoned Busumbala project - the largest portion had been provided by the UK Government, in the form of Gift Aid. This fact highlighted the need for donors and sponsors to be reminded to register for gift aid. Some of this gift aid came from the Trustees claiming back some of their essential GETS expenses and then donating the same value back to charity. This is normal practice in charities, completely legal and accepted by HMRC.
The Chairman noted that the LBS would be open for business at the start of term in a little over 3 weeks time, although some minor works were still to be completed. The opening highlighted the fact that the remaining 4 classrooms needed to be completed for occupation in 2 years time i.e. by September 2014. Consequently the charity needed to redouble efforts starting now to raise the necessary funds - £23,000 for the building and resources costs and an additional £6000 each year for running costs. This would not be easy in the current financial climate and finding Corporate support was imperative.
A vote of thanks was given to Dawn and Paul Webster for producing the report and Paul Webster for generating the accounts.
7. Ratification of membership Amendment to Constitution:
In January 2012 Trustees discussed the issue of membership with the Charity Commission who agreed that the Executive Committee may immediately agree, minute and implement as trustees, the additions to Clause E highlighted below in italics and underlined:
(1) Membership of the Charity shall be open to:
(i) Individuals (over the age of 18 years) who are interested in furthering the work of the Charity and who have paid any annual subscription or made donations of time and/or resources as laid down from time to time by the Executive Committee, and
(ii) Any body corporate or unincorporated association which is interested in furthering the Charity's work and has paid any annual subscription or made donations of time and/or resources (any such body being called in this constitution a “member organization”)
The changes were unanimously RATIFIED.
8. Endorsement of the expenditure on Registration of a Gambian Branch of the charity:
As part of the planning and preparation for the Lower Basic School project the trustees took the view that registration of the charity in the Gambia was necessary. After a number of meetings with the Gambian authorities it became apparent that the only solution available was to register a Gambian Branch of the charity with it’s own separate constitution. The matter was discussed with the UK Charity Commission who agreed that the process was appropriate and within the powers of the trustees as laid down in the UK Constitution.
Endorsement of the action taken and the cost incurred (£60) was unanimously ACCEPTED.
9. Sponsorship Report:
Dawn Webster, the Sponsorship Secretary, presented an outline of progress. Since the inception of GETS in 2004, more than 500 children had been assisted through sponsorship. There are currently 59 children whose education is being sponsored through GETS, either at Sunrise or at another location. Helen Touray, the Sunrise Centre Director, administers all sponsorships whether at Sunrise or elsewhere. Tribute was paid to Helen’s work supporting sponsorship: the fact that Helen is on site was a key benefit to both the charity and to donors. Sponsoring a child through GETS ensures that money goes where intended and is managed carefully, student attendance and academic progress is closely monitored and sponsors are informed of any problems that arise. Due to office expenses, the real costs of employing local staff to help Helen due to the complexity of the task and the constant additional workload, an administration element of 10% is included in sponsorship fees.
Details were provided of students aged between about 5 and 14 years who were in need of sponsors (these and others are detailed on the GETS Website). Most were already attending a school; one disabled boy needed sponsorship to enable him to attend school for the first time. Four current Sunrise students are also in need of sponsorship. Many sponsors prefer the close individual relationship that goes hand in hand with sponsoring a specific child. For those sponsors who do not necessarily require contact with an individual, trustees would like potential sponsors of children at Sunrise to support a Sunrise class rather than an individual child. Instead of just helping one child, a sponsor would be helping many children. To support the ’class sponsorship’ concept, the GETS website is being be updated to provide each class with its own web page with pictures and news.
Report ACCEPTED. A vote of thanks was given to Dawn Webster for producing the report.
10. Sunrise Centre Report:
It had been a very busy year. Helen Touray presented an outline of notable events and activities during the first full academic year at Sunrise:
· There were many staff changes, including the Education Director, the Tie & Dye teacher and the recruitment of 2 of our own Skills students as classroom Assistants.
· A large number of visitors came to Sunrise during the year – all brought gifts, some signed up as sponsors during their visit and some made a return visit.
· Over 500 uniforms were made for children and teachers by the Skills Centre students.
· An outing to Bijilo Nature Reserve was arranged followed by a trip to the beach, with picnics prepared by the staff. For many of the children it was their first visit.
· A sports day was held with teams from Sunrise and the London Corner school participating. The competition was fierce and the winning team has yet to be identified! Great fun was had by all.
· An Ebeh Day (Open Day) was held in February, with food enthusiastically prepared by the Skills students and music by a local DJ. The event was a huge success even though generator failure and a pause for prayers at 2pm interrupted the flow somewhat!
· A formal graduation ceremony was held for the 25 skills students who completed their course in July. This year the students made their own graduation gowns and Mortar Board caps!
· Seventy percent of the skills students from GETS who undertook Work Experience were offered permanent places by local businesses.
· Furniture for the LBS and to re-equip both Nursery classrooms was sent by container from the UK and is now at Sunrise ready for use as required.
distributed throughout tourist sites in the Gambia. John Skingsley suggested that a video presentation should be produced to support marketing and fundraising.
As part of the intention for the charity to adopt a more business-like approach to management and operation a 5-year Vision and Strategy document and Business Plan have been agreed and is being implemented. In addition, it has been decided to address the safeguarding of children and students under our care. With this in mind a draft Child Protection Policy is under consideration and Volunteer Guidance and Support documents are being updated.
Report ACCEPTED. A vote of thanks was given to Helen for producing the report
11. Questions and Comments:
Questions were taken during the presentations in each session and answered. No outstanding questions were noted.
The Chairman’s closing comments were that although the LBS progress had been hampered by materials shortages and an early start to the rainy season, it would be opening for business for the coming academic year.
Meeting closed 4.15pm