MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF GAMBIA EDUCATION
AND TEACHING SUPPORT HELD AT 2pm ON SATURDAY 31ST AUGUST 2013 AT BICKERTON VILLAGE HALL Nr MALPAS CHESHIRE.
1. Welcome by Chairman:
Tony Nelson welcomed attendees to the meeting and thanked all supporters for enabling GETS to do more during difficult times. The year ending 31 July 2013 had been a very busy year and much had been achieved; highlights were:
· An important aim within the charity’s vision is to enable more single student sponsorships – this year the combined number of external and internal (Sunrise) sponsorships had increased to 70.
· The Lower Basic School has opened supporting the first class of 28 children (maximum).
· Gambia is principally a Muslim country and in December 2012 Mr Saidykhan joined the Sunrise staff on a part time basis to teach Quranic studies, a requirement of the Lower Basic School Syllabus. The first step was to start teaching students Arabic, the language in which the Quran is written.
· Fundraising is an ongoing task for the trustees and the major success of the year was obtaining a grant of £15,000 from the Allen & Nesta Trust – this enabled a start on Phase 2 of the LBS building project a year earlier than initially planned.
· Maxine Beech, who has been a supporter of the charity and an essential member of the Newsletter production team for some time, became a Co-opted Trustee in January 2012. Maxine brings valuable new skills and youthful energy to the GETS Executive Committee. In particular, Maxine’s marketing expertise fills a longstanding need. She has also set up and is running a Facebook page, which already has over 100 supporters ( ‘likes’).
· April saw a planning visit from representatives of the Driffield Air Cadets Squadron who have raised funds to build a Sports area at Sunrise by Easter next year. A contract will be let to lay a suitably coated concrete plinth upon which ball games such as 5-a-side football, volleyball and basketball can be played.
· To improve further GETS relationship with the local community a School management Committee was formed in July. The committee is chaired by the Education Director and comprises staff and parents – people who are interested and educated Gambians who wish to see Sunrise as a successful an effective resource serving their community.
2. Minutes of the previous AGM held 1st September 2012:
Acceptance of the minutes was proposed by Erica Wren, seconded by Helen Touray and CARRIED unanimously. The Chair signed the minutes as a true record.
3. Nomination of Officers:
Nominations had been received for Tony Nelson
Proposed by Sue Nelson, Seconded by Dawn Webster and CARRIED
Nominations had been received for Paul Webster
Proposed by Tony Bound, Seconded by Tony Nelson and CARRIED
Nominations had been received for Sue Nelson
Proposed by Rosie Holder, Seconded by Helen Touray and CARRIED
5. Elections to the Executive Committee:
Nominations had been received for Maxine Beech, Dawn Webster, Helen Touray and Julie Limbrick.
Proposed by Roy Hockaday, Seconded en bloc by Rosie Holder and CARRIED.
6. Adoption of Trustee Annual Report and Annual Accounts:
The Statutory Accounts and Trustees Report were presented to the members and comments invited.
The Treasurer advised those present that the Independent Examiner had examined the accounts and that no material comment had been made.
The treasurer highlighted that the surplus carried forward this year had increased slightly to £40,964 from £38,025 at the end of 2012, notwithstanding the significant capital expenditure over the year. Government assistance in the form of Gift Aid comprised almost 10% of receipts over the year.
Acceptance of the Report and Accounts was proposed by Maxine Beech, seconded by Tony Bound and they were ADOPTED.
A vote of thanks was given to Dawn and Paul Webster for producing the report and to Paul Webster for generating the accounts.
The Chairman further clarified the issue of Trustees’ expenses. The accounts show the payment of Trustee expenses over the year at a cost of £7,275 (see Treasurer’s Report 2013). Trustees made donations of £3,712 to the Charity upon which Gift Aid can be claimed, thus offsetting some expenses and increasing the amount received by GETS. This process does not infringe the guidance provided by either the Charity Commission or HMRC and is acceptable to both bodies.
7. Sponsorship Report:
Dawn Webster, the Sponsorship Secretary, presented an outline of progress. Of the 70 Sponsored Students whose accounts were administered by the Charity during the year, 46 students were in schools other than Sunrise and 24 were at Sunrise. Each individual sponsor has their own reasons to sponsor a child and to select the school that the child attends. GETS fully supports the sponsors wishes and provides the best support possible to external sponsors. However, GETS prefers to support internal sponsorships at Sunrise, which have the great advantage that it has control over the quality of education provided, is in daily contact with the student, has closer contact with the parent/guardian and can therefore provide more comprehensive and meaningful feedback to sponsors. Sponsorship at Sunrise covers parents’ fees, teachers’ salaries and classroom resources and so helps far more than just the individual pupil.
Trustees keep Sunrise sponsorship charges under continuous scrutiny and are aware that sponsors, like much of the population, are not immune to the consequences of the ‘credit crunch’. While the actual current cost of a student’s education at Sunrise is approximately £13/month, sponsors are asked to pay £10/month. Similarly, Gambian parents are not immune to rising prices. GETS, with the aid of some generous supporters, has therefore established a ‘Hardship Fund’ to help alleviate some of these difficulties for Sunrise students. This covers death of a parent or guardian, loss of a GETS sponsor and skills students who are unable to complete their course and graduate. The fund is monitored closely to prevent abuse and allows 12 months to find a new sponsor.
Sponsorship, in the past, has been considered only as a vehicle to support an individual child – in effect a Restricted Fund. Maxine Beech presented an outline of the ‘Sponsor a Class’ sponsorship initiative she has developed to harness the generosity of potential supporters to help the growth of non-restricted funds that can be used where most needed. The aim of the initiative is to attract new supporters who are able and willing to donate a minimum of £5/month. This sponsorship can also be given as a gift. A newly launched website www.sponsoraclass.co.uk contains details of the project.
Report ACCEPTED. A vote of thanks was given to Dawn Webster and Maxine Beech for producing the report.
8. Sunrise Centre Report:
It had been a very busy year. Helen Touray presented an outline of notable events and activities during the year at Sunrise:
· Several new staff had joined the school during the year: Marokey Bojang joined the Skills Centre staff as a Teaching assistant; Mr Saidykhan as the Quranic teacher; Saikou Singateh, Lamin Makalo and Gibril Mendy as caretakers.
· All the pupils and staff enjoyed the Nursery and LBS trips to the crocodile pool at Katchikally, followed by a picnic on the beach.
· Skills students and staff had a very enjoyable day at Myfarm Agricultural Centre.
· The second Annual Sports day between Sunrise Nursery and the London Corner School was held in fiercely a competitive manner once again. All medal winners were extremely proud!
· Mrs Denise Green, a UK citizen resident in the Gambia, has been helping in the Sunrise office 2 days a week and has been a great help to the Centre Director. Many other volunteers have given freely of their time, for which the charity is deeply appreciative.
· Following Graduation 70% of the Sunrise Skills students obtained employment as a result of successful work placement periods.
· Teachers undergo First Aid refresher training in January each year. Shortly afterwards Mrs Cham was called upon to clean and dress a deep leg wound on one of the builders working ,
· Football has become popular in the Sunrise compound, particularly among the female Skills students who are looking forward to the construction of the sports area funded by the Air Cadets.
· The year has been blessed by many visits from both new and regular sponsors and supporters. All are equally welcome and their presence and generosity greatly appreciated. However, there are two visits worthy of special mention. Paul Zmitrowicz, another UK citizen resident in the Gambia who helped 3rd year Skills students prepare CVs, and Staff and students from the Bishop Hever School in Cheshire who came bearing a substantial cheque – the outcome of several fundraising events undertaken on behalf of GETS and organised by Maxine Beech, a teacher at the school.
· The complete shell of the 6-classroom LBS is now complete. At the end of September 2013 pupils from the Sunrise Nursery 2 class will move up into the new LBS Grade 1 Class the 2012 LBS Grade 1 class will start a new year in LBS Grade 2. Mrs Cham, currently the Nursery 1 teacher will become the new LBS Grade 2 teacher and will be replaced by Fatou Sally Ceesay, known as Sally.
· Mrs Mendy, the senior Skills teacher has retired and a replacement has been found for cookery but a replacement still has to be found for sewing. Responses to the advertisement for a replacement are eagerly awaited.
· Fatou Cham has now completed her ECD (Early Childhood Development) teacher training at Gambia College. Fatou Sanneh still has one more year’s tuition. Both have been sponsored by GETS. To achieve this they go without holidays and attend evening classes. This shows how much education in the Gambia is appreciated and respected.
Report ACCEPTED. A vote of thanks was given to Helen for producing the report and to the Chairman for his ongoing work.
9. Questions and Comments:
Questions were taken during the presentations in each session and answered. No outstanding questions were noted.
In his closing comments the Chairman thanked fellow trustees for their support and hard work during the year, saying that much had been achieved and with marketing experience now added to the trustees’ portfolio of skills the future was bright.
Meeting closed: 3.50pm
Socialising in the evening
Tony presenting Ian with a retirement gift -
no prizes for guessing what it might be!