These smiling faces are grade 7 students at Armitage High School. There are many features of this class which are common throughout schools in The Gambia. Students must wear uniforms to school. Classrooms have large open windows, but don't have much furniture except for desks and chairs. Classes are large (40-60 students is normal) and teachers move from class to class instead of the students. Although primary school is basically free, students must pay school fees to attend middle and high school. Less than 50% of primary school students continue onto middle school, and even fewer (less than 20%) make it through high school. This low attendence rate at the higher levels is due primarily to space limitations, but also because of the high cost of education and lack of interest on the part of some parents. The situation is improving, however, and several new secondary schools have been built in the past few years.
Armitage is notable because it's the country's only boarding school. Historically, it was established in 1923 as a place for village chiefs to send their sons to be educated and has maintained a fine reputation for academic excellence.submitted by Richard Smiley