During our visit in March, we were able to see the partially completed examination hall, built in very close proximity to the other school buildings. While construction was underway, we had concerns as to whether or not the building would be complete for the exams, scheduled during the window of March 15- April 30.
Similar to the SAT exams here, the West Africa Board Exams (WAEC) determine a student’s preparedness to enter university. Students study and prepare just like here with review sessions and practice tests.
Our Nigerian partners made a wise decision in determining the hall as a critical next step, acquiring the needed accreditation for Graceland from Zamfara State. The hall was cleverly designed and reinforced to provide an exam space on the second floor and administrative offices, library, computer lab, and teacher workroom on the first floor.
Work progressed enough to allow just over 30 students to sit for their exams. The exam results should be available in late July.
Our last visit to Gusau was in 2011. Since that visit, Graceland International School has made great progress. With funds raised in the US, a very large tract of land behind the original school plot has been acquired for future development. There are now two completed buildings containing classrooms, offices, and science labs. In addition, the important examination hall is under construction and was finished enough to allow students to sit for their West Africa Education Council (WAEC) exams.
We gained an understanding of the unique issues and challenges faced by our partners in Gusau regarding the operation of the school. At the end of 2014 we were informed that the operating budget of the school was running at a deficit. AEP’s commitment to date has been to build the necessary buildings with the understanding that we might possibly shift our focus to assisting with operating costs when the buildings are complete. The AEP Board concluded that a trip to Nigeria was prudent in order to confer with the school leadership to review the operating costs and to delineate the most urgent needs going forward. AEP is very grateful to Board member Paul Frank for his generosity in funding this trip.