The mission

The Don McMath Foundation provides free schooling to the poorest children of all ages and backgrounds who live in the schools catchment area.

Gambia is one of the poorest nations in the world, ranking 172nd out of 187 countries in the United Nations Development Programme’s 2014 human development index. Poverty is widespread, pervasive and predominantly rural. Approximately three quarters of the rural population is classified as poor. Roughly 2% of the Gambia’s 1.5 million population are refugees, and only around 40% of over 15 year olds are able to read and write. This situation is appalling and this is something The Don McMath Foundation is trying to address.

Although the Constitution of The Gambia mandates free and compulsory primary education, a lack of resources and education infrastructure makes implementation of this difficult. School fees have long prevented many children from attending school.

The Don McMath Foundation provides free schooling to the poorest children of all ages and backgrounds who live in the schools catchment area. We are a not for profit organisation whose mission it is to provide free education for children from the poorest Gambian families living within a 3-mile radius of The Don McMath Foundation school in Kotu. Families are vetted to ensure that only the most disadvantaged, those that genuinely can’t afford school fees, benefit. As far as we are aware we are the only completely free school in The Gambia.

The Don McMath Foundation began in 2001 with Anne McMath going on holiday to the Gambia and noticing that there were a lot of children on the streets every day, because their parents could not afford to send them to school. She started sponsoring a couple of children at local schools and encouraged friends to sponsor a few more. This grew until we decided that we should open a school ourselves and help lots of children instead of just one or two.

The money for the running costs for the school is raised by supporters of the charity who sponsor the children each year. Nearly all the teachers at the school have been trained locally at the Gambian College which has a teacher training facility.

We are a registered charity in both the UK (Registered Charity Number 1100164) and in The Gambia (Number 733/2002) and so can claim back tax on money received from UK tax payers. Our accounts can be read here

Please support this worthwhile cause and help a young person reach their full potential. (Can you hyperlink the word support and link to ‘Get Involved’ page)?

Interesting Facts

We purchase 427 new school uniforms each year.

We have educated over 900 children since 2003.

Many of our nursery school children must be shown how to use the toilets as they don’t have European toilets at home.

All the school buildings were built from generous donations and fundraising. The school blocks cost £101,313 at the time of the build.

The hardship fund has helped support children with food, shoes, and medical expenses.

Don McMath Foundation School had the joint highest results in the Grade 9 Gambia Exams (GABECE) in 2021/2022

100% of all donations are used to run the school. The Trustees do not receive any money for the time we give.

The Don McMath Foundation was set up in memory of Don McMath, who was a Math teacher at Hampden Park Secondary School until his untimely death at the age of 44 from a reoccurring brain tumour.

Anne McMath was awarded a BEM medal in 2014 from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth for services to education in The Gambia.

We grow banana plants and mango trees around the perimeter of the school. Once harvested, these are shared with all our children for a snack at break time.

Gambia rejoined the Commonwealth in 2018 after leaving in 2013.

When we constructed the school buildings, we made our blocks using sand and cement using a mould. These were then dried in the sun. Four thousand five hundred concrete blocks were made to build one building.

We only employ local teachers, tailors, suppliers, and builders to help support the local community and economy.

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