The Gambia is a small country (10,000 km², 1.9 million inhabitants) enclosed within Senegal.
One-third of the population live below the absolute poverty line of $1.25 a day. It is one of the poorest countries of the world. Despite substantial efforts by the present government to boost educational standards, The Gambia has a long way to go.
From a religious point of view, the country is relatively homogeneous, with 80% of the population being Muslim. From an ethnic and linguistic perspective, however, there is huge diversity: therefore, education is provided in English.
Officially, compulsory education extends until the end of primary school, but in practice 20-35% of all young people do not complete it and half of the adult population is illiterate.
The quality of education also remains low and is very uneven: depending on the region.
On the positive side, the (official) abolition of tuition fees at primary level in 1998 has boosted participation, and positive discrimination in favor of girls has contributed to gender parity at primary and lower secondary level. Since 2006, The Gambia also receives assistance from the World Bank.
The school ‘The Swallow’ was created in 2002 in Manjai, a deprived village located close to Serrekunda, by a Belgian educationalist. It comprises a nursery and primary school with 240 pupils (2014-15), and focuses on emancipatory education, with a strong emphasis on integrated child development (life skills, health, food security, etc.). The unique position of The Swallow is a combination of excellent emancipating education and a radical choice for the poor people of the region.