Bana ba Metsi School (BBM) began in the year 2000 when the founding Director, Mr. Steven Harpt and a handful of students literally pitched tents on the plot where the school now resides. They had to rely on donated food, donated tools, donated tents, and donated mattresses, cooking pots, water containers, land cruiser pick up with trailer. The plot was empty, no corner poles nor fence to demarcate the 200mx200m proposed school ground.
14 years on, much hard work, lots of planning, creating and finally production and one can enter a remarkable school. Staff have grown from two to twelve (plus three volunteers) and the student population has expanded from its original seven to 55.
The physical developments have increased significantly from absolutely nothing to the following: a fenced in plot, three dormitories, three classrooms, one staff room, a kitchen, workshop/maintenance area, eight staff houses and so much more.
From the humblest of beginnings, the school has grown into the only registered private educational institution in Botswana committed to the rehabilitation of youth at risk. Impressive indeed but none of this would have been possible without some major financial assistance from a wide range of donors.
The Student Population
The rumour is that the founding Director picked seven boys from the Maun shopping area, who were boys, living on the streets. He offered these boys a chance to finish their primary education. Today the process of choosing boys eligible to attend Bana Ba Metsi has changed greatly. All of the boys are screened by social services and must meet set criteria such as; have they dropped out of formal primary school, have they any means of financial support, can they restart their education at standard five and are they between the ages of 11 to 18? When they come to us, they look like this! But after just one term, they change for the better.
On average, 30% of the students every year are orphans. The intake of students at Standard 5 each year varies in number since it is linked directly to the number of the students who write their standard seven exams and therefore leave the school. It must truthfully be noted that there is a very small number of boys (0 to 3 per year) who do not return to Bana Ba Metsi during the course of the normal year. They drop out for various reasons and this does affect the overall student numbers, but not greatly.
Bana Ba Metsi is located in the Okavango Sub District, Botswana. This is part of the North West portion of Botswana and is considered by most to be a remote, rural poor and generally under developed area. The closest village is the small almost settlement like area called Sekanduko. The two nearest villages are Mogotlho, 10kms to the south and Ngarange, 10kms to the north.
The largest villages in the area are Seronga, 50kms to the south and Shakawe, 50 kms northwest. The school is remote and this is enhanced by being on the side of a major river (Okavango) that is considered to be the “wrong” side. What this means is that in order to be in contact with other major roads which lead to the ‘rest’ of Botswana, we have to cross the Okavango River by ferry.
The plot on which the school resides is approximately 150m away from a small branch of the Okavango River. When sitting on the high sand banks of the river’s edge, one can take in a pretty view which encompasses vast flood plains filled with reed and papyrus, small islands and far away tree lines. In the distance, Tsodilo Hills are visible, 70kms almost due west.
Bana Ba Metsi currently has 15 staff. Twelve of the staff is full time employees, all are Batswana and all are employed on contract which may be two to three years in duration and is renewable upon application. The other three of the staff is volunteers from Project Trust and the German organisation GIZ. All volunteers are young men (18-19) and they are volunteering for a one year time period. Since 2007, the school has enjoyed financial support from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Sport, Youth and Culture. Because of this financial support, Bana Ba Metsi has managed to attract staff who are well qualified and who are unique educators. The staff is committed to helping young boys with a wide range of learning problems.
The boys start their day at 6:00am. While the majority wash and make their surroundings tidy, others must chop wood and cook the morning meal. Every Monday to Friday the boys have academic lessons which start at 7.30am and last till 12.50pm.
They enjoy a 30 minute break at 9.50am where they usually drink tea and eat bread, which is made by the boys the day before. Lunch is served by the boys at 1.00pm and then they are free to play until 3.00pm, which is when their daily meeting and assessment of students takes place. This critical assessment may last 10 minutes or as long as 40 minutes. As soon as it is over, manual work groups are assigned jobs for the day/week and the boys undertake their work till 5.30pm.
Dinner is usually served between 6.30pm and 7:00pm, in the outdoor kitchen area and it is worth noting that this meal is prepared by the boys. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, evening studies occur from 8.00 – 9.00pm. On days where there is no study, the boys are free to watch TV or play music/games in the recreation room.
As was mentioned in the background section, the school started from the humblest of beginnings. It has struggled for many years and continues to do so where the raising of funds is concerned, relying mostly on donor money for physical development. This has made progress in physical development slow. The following permanent buildings have been constructed by staff, students, friends and invited experts:
- Staff housing, 9
- Guest structures, 6
- Dorms, 3
- Staff room, 1
- Classrooms, 3
- Computer room, 1
- Library, 1
- Store room, 1
- Recreation room, 1
- Toilets and showers, 5
- Backup Generator room. 1
- Slaughter house and storage fridge for Chickens, 1
- Chicken structures, 2
- Maintenance/Work shop area, 1
- Swimming Pool, 1
What Bana Ba Metsi Does
It is a privately run school (Moremogolo Trust) with ties to the Ministry of Education. It also has ties with Private Donors, who for the first six years of the schools existence, covered most of the school’s costs, both capital and recurrent. It is a school that has established an enviable record of rehabilitating troubled youngsters; many of them school drop-outs, orphans, poor individuals, who may have opted for a life that bordered on that of a criminal nature. The school has given them all a second chance in life.
It is our firm belief that Bana ba Metsi School has demonstrated, in its first 12years of operation, that it is fulfilling a national need. To date, 125 teenage boys have obtained their Primary School Leaving Certificate. Of these, 75 have either completed or are currently attending junior secondary school, and 6 students are in senior secondary school.
The Ministry of Education contributes to the educational budget, by means of an annual subvention, to cover all of the recurrent expenses associated with any educational institution. An approach will be made to the Ministry of Local Government to request funding for the non-academic costs of the School, including the maintenance of the students and general administrative overheads. The Board of Trustees of Moremogolo Trust intends to raise funds for the continued development of the School from corporate and private donations, as has been the case in the past.
All funds provided for the School by the Government or from private donors are paid into the Moremogolo Trust account in the first instance. The Trust and the School maintain separate accounts at the Maun branch of FNB. The School draws its budgetary requirements from the Trust from time to time, any unused balances being invested in interest-bearing financial instruments. All withdrawals from the Trust are subject to dual controls. The annual budgets of the School are closely scrutinised by the Board of Trustees. The accounts of both the Trust and the School are closely monitored by the Trustees and audited annually by an independent firm of auditors to ensure that they are properly maintained.
Prospective Future Developments
- A new kitchen area for the Storage, Preparation and Serving of the boys food has been started and when complete should enhance greatly the hygiene of our food related processes. Still to be completed with this development are: Tiled floor and two extractor fans for the kitchen.
- The boy’s toilet and shower areas are inadequate and need drastic rehabilitation. The toilet septic tank needs servicing and pumping.
- The boy’s locker areas by the dorms are in a state of disrepair and need major carpentry repairs as can be seen here in the picture below.
- Due to a lack of suitable rock, all soak away for brown and grey water units were constructed as best as possible but I feel with material that was sub standard. Nearly all of these structures have soak away that are ineffectual or blocked. They all need to be remade and we are in the process of doing so as the picture below shows. However, this requires ample material, labour, time and money, all of which were not planned for in the financial year.
- The school desires to repaint all buildings that need repainting. This would mean a minimum of 500L of cream deluxe acrylic paint (PVA), suitable rollers and paint brushes. To keep with the style of the school, many of the freshly painted buildings will acquire decorative murals. Under the supervision of an aspiring artist, planned out thematic murals will be tastefully painted on the newly painted walls.
- Lastly, the school needs some items which have never before appeared in the budget but are needed desperately and are items that in my opinion should be included in order to keep the general school population healthy and well, both physically and mentally. Here I refer to the following items:
- An adequate, well stocked first aid kit. Key items for this kit would be 100+ rubber gloves, panadol and aspirin, assorted bandages and gauze pads, bentadine antiseptic cream, mercurachrome antiseptic solution for minor cuts, surgical spirits, deep heat for aching muscles and rehydration slats.
- Sports equipment, specially footballs, shin guards, shorts, shirts and socks (boots would be most desirable but are for the most part, too expensive, volley balls, table tennis equipment
- Art equipment, coloured pencils, water colours, acrylic paints, paint brushes and a large variety of paper types and sizes
- Pool chlorine in 20kg economy containers
Bana Ba Metsi, helping troubled boys to learn. An Educational/Social Project worthy of your support. Our request to you is simple. If you are interested in supporting this project, please identify and hopefully support one of the mentioned projects listed in the section: Development for the Future (our wish list!)
Thank you, Le Kamoso!
Bana Ba Metsi School
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Mobile: +267 72828250