Five years ago, Sona Jobarteh sent her long-standing vision into reality by setting up The Gambia Academy,
the first institution in The Gambia to educate young Africans in their culture, traditions, history seamlessly alongside their everyday academic education. According to the Sona, Africa faces the crucial and urgent challenge of addressing the education systems across the continent. Children who are fortunate enough to be able to attend school spend most of their waking hours in school, however in most cases the environment, culture, approach and curricula content within these schools are invariably oriented around a post-colonial value system and subsequently a foreign perspective.
"It is detrimental for future generations of the continent whose values and concepts are shaped during their school years, to continue to be trained within a system where African culture, African history, African traditions and their intrinsic values are either non-existent or at best, relegated to the position of extra-curricular activities.”
- Sona Jobarteh
For the past five years, Sona has focussed entirely on the challenging task of developing the curriculum and the internal workings of the Academy.
However, there is now a pressing need to bring the material facilities up to the standards of its thriving operational structures. The demand is now fast outstripping the means for Sona to continue to finance alone.
Currently, there are a total of 21 students and 14 members of staff at the Academy, all being financed by Sona. There remains a long, ever-growing waiting list for new applicants.
In order to expand and meet the demand as well as provide adequate facilities for students, the construction of the Academy campus is absolutely essential and well overdue. This will serve not only as the full time campus for the current Junior Students, but will also become a centralised hub for African cultural and academic excellence, catering for both children and adults as well as national and international students.
In moving forward, we are now seeking external funding in order to bring this vision to reality.
"We dont just provide education for these students, I take pride in the fact that we take on every student holistically, meaning their medical needs, food, clothing and even family support is taken care of. In order for a child to reach their full potential we have to do whatever we can to support their complete existence, not just their existence during school hours . This is why every single donation goes such a long way in helping to ensure these children receive the support that I know they deserve in life. The foundations of the future are being laid within these children. "
- Sona Jobarteh
Sona keenly welcomes volunteers to assist in the growth and development of the Academy as teachers, administrators, curriculum developers, and particularly fundraisers. Sona is especially seeking volunteers to assist in the development of the maths, science, English and African History curriculums. If you are interesting in supporting Sona's academy in any way as a volunteer please contact us.
The Academy currently hosts international student courses in Kora, Balafon, drumming and dance. Accommodation is also available. For more information, and to book, follow the link below.
Over the course of two years, Sona Jobarteh secured the purchase of 2.5 hectares (6.2 acres) of land to be dedicated exclusively to the construction of the Academy campus. In 2018, the project attracted the attention of the highly sought-after London-based architectural firm Penoyre & Prasad who subsequently devoted significant pro bono time and resources, designing the above layout and 3D mapping of the entire campus. The company’s eco designs incorporate the harnessing of solar energy, whilst remaining in-keeping with the natural beauty of the surrounding area.