A relatively new initiative, the Skill Centres cater for girls aged 17 to 20 who have finished with or opted out of education at 12/13 years of age.
The majority of the students come from areas near the three designated mission schools however, some travel long distances in order to join this much sought after “last chance” option. Their educational standards vary greatly but generally they have many difficulties with English and Maths. Lack of relevant textbooks is a further drawback.
Ciaran Black, Jim Henry, Mary Helen Davis and Mary Grady were all involved in the “Skill Centres” project in 2012.
Ciaran fundraised in Cork in 2011 and on the proceeds he set about improving the infrastructure of the school. Windows were installed in the classrooms, potholed classroom floors repaired and tiled, replacement desks commissioned locally, modern ladies toilets installed and the leaking ceilings are soon to be replaced.
In 2013 Tom Cunnane with the help of his school, Scoil Bhríde, Kill, Co. Kildare provided the Skill Centre with 10 new laptops. These laptops were pre loaded with software suitable for the teaching of basic English and Maths. They were also loaded with a programme called Touch Type, Read and Spell. This programme is specially designed to improve typing skills as well as reading and spelling and is ideal for the needs of the students in the Skill Centre. Tom, Jim and Ciarán helped with the teaching and also trained two of the Gambian teachers who are now using the computers on a daily basis.
More computers are required with the aim of providing accredited IT and Secretarial courses to come on stream next year. These will prepare the girls for the job market and a bright new future which awaits them. It is already a success story. Your help and participation in this area would be of immense value in the progression of this project – please contact us.