Recent news from Graceland International School, Gusau, Nigeria
Recent news from Graceland has been very encouraging, with enrollment up in all grades. There is a healthy balance between the numbers of boys and girls, as well as Christian and Muslim students. The aim of Graceland International School (GIS) is to ensure that both boys and girls have equal opportunities for the quality education that is offered there. The aim of the school is “reconciliation through education”. Therefore GIS enrolls both Christian and Muslim students without discrimination. Learning together encourages understanding and acceptance between those from different backgrounds.
After a long delay, we are excited to announce that the well at Graceland International School is finally being drilled, the delay was caused by the the fact that the raining season made the soil waterlogged, now that the dry season has arrived work began in earnest. This well is vital for the provision of clean safe, drinking water for the school. The well will not only serve the school, but also the adjoining Graceland Hospital, opened last October.
In a recent editorial published in the Nigerian daily “This Day”, it was noted that the most recent WAEC exam results were again dismal even depressing. Unless the authorities take action to turn around the state of education in the country, educational standards will continue to fall. Nationally, only 18% of the candidates who entered the exams received results that would get thm admission into some of the reasonable universities.
In contrast the results of the students at Graceland International School far outstripped the national results.
Our first entry was in 2016, when 35 candidates entered.
27 candidates obtained credits in 9 subjects.
6 candidates obtained credits in 8 subjects.
2 candidates obtained credits in 7 subjects.
All of the GIS candidates obtained the required 6 credits including English and Mathematics which allowed them to gain admission to university or other institutions of higher learning. One of the girls also obtained the hig84hest marks in whole of Zamfara state.
The 2017 results were equally impressive.
84 candidates entered the examinations.
4 candidates passed all 9 credit subjects.
50 candidates passed 8 credit subjects.
7 candidates passed 7 credit subjects.
5 candidates received 5 or 6 credit subjects.
This means that 79 out of 84 candidates received enough of the required credits to gain admission to a university.
The impressive thing about these students is that they have very high ambitions for their futures. They speak of becoming doctors, lawyers, engineers.
Read the editorial from “This Day” here:
Wall Fund-Raiser– Can you Help?
The property directly behind Graceland International School provides enough space to build additional classroom blocks and dormitories in the future. This is a prime piece of land surrounded by a growing neighborhood. As houses continue to spring up, there is an increased probability that the land might be encroached upon.
Even though the property has been purchased and paid for, it is currently unoccupied and can be encroached by property owners adjoining our property. Building the wall is a crucial next-step. The wall can be constructed in phases, with the perimeter established three to four blocks high. As long as the border has been established, all will be well.
The diocese has the ability to make their own blocks.
The total bill for the wall is estimated to be around $60,000. We have already secured about half of the funds needed. In order to speed up the project, would you consider purchasing blocks at $1.00 each or making an additional donation for the wall fund? Every little bit helps, especially at this crucial time.
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 Grace from Zamfara State. The hall was cleverly designed and reinforced to support five classrooms on a soon-to-be-constructed second floor - our next step.
Just over 30 students sat for their exams. The exam results should be available in late July.
Classroom Block 2 has been completed both inside and out...and is currently full of students! The single-story structure was easier to complete and less costly than the original two-story structure. This design was chosen for those reasons and the fact that it was needed quickly. Currently, almost all grade levels are being serviced at Grace International.
We are grateful for continuing funds that have enabled the completion of this part of the project. We are especially grateful for our partners at St. Paul’s in Akron, Ohio, who have been so faithful and generous.
Building Two has a Roof!
AEP members recently received photos of the new roof just completed on Classroom Block 2!
Construction on second classroom block has started!
The roof matches the bright blue of Classroom Block 1. The addition of the second building with its seven new classrooms now provides places for another 150-200 students. Additional funds have just been wired to Gusau to complete the interior work in the building, including plastering, electrical wiring, and classroom fixtures.
This structure was begun early last spring when the original building reached capacity. Parents continued to bring children in to register for classes. Originally designated to be a secondary school complex, Grace International now houses students of all ages.
Now that Nigeria has been declared ebola-free, students can head back to classes. Schools in Nigeria had been shut down by the government while the virus was contained and were recently reopened at the end of October.
Bishop John Danbinta has plans to return to the U.S. in the spring of 2015. He is will be traveling with his wife, Helen, who has just received word that her visa application has been approved. This will be her first trip out of Nigeria! The trip is tentatively scheduled for May, but at this point, travel plans are still in the discussion stage.
While here, the Danbintas plan to spend time in both Connecticut and Ohio, visiting the partner churches and spending time with supporters.
A benefit dinner is now in the planning stages in order to raise funds for a bus and the third school building.
We are extremely excited to have Helen travel this time. The message she brings will give everyone first-hand understanding of a woman’s perspective of life in a society where women often struggle for social equality. We look forward to her speech.
The first major milestone for Graceland International School was achieved with the completion of the first block of classrooms and administration offices. The building was completed in time for Grace International School to open its doors to register and receive the first intake of students.
Our fervent hope is that this first class of students will achieve great things in this academic year.
Announcing the Completion of the first Phase of Graceland International School.
It is with a great sense of joy and gratitude that we announce the completion and opening of the first phase of Graceland International School. The building was completed in August and was opened in early September. The first group of pupils are now attending classes.
It is exciting to see the pictures of the completed building; as students fill the classrooms, we are planning the next steps in the Graceland International School complex! Many thanks to all of our supporters- we all share in this success!
Visit to the construction site of Graceland International School.
Our visit to the construction site was a highlight of the trip. It was amazing to see the first building already under construction! The second floor just needed to be roofed so that the internal finish work could be done.
We were also able to see the adjacent tract of land, approximately 160,000 square feet this more than quadruples the size of the school property!. At the time it was being leased to farmers during the growing season, but Bishop explained that the balance of the purchase price was due at the beginning of December. In addition another $10,000 was needed to put a roof on the existing building. The thought of raising $40,000 in just three and one half months was a bit overwhelming, to say the least, but after discussion and prayer, we pledged to Bishop John that the money would get to Gusau.
Photo: View of adjacent property
Photo: View of classroom block 1
Since property boundaries are often marked with cinder blocks, the idea of selling virtual cinder blocks seemed to be a viable option to get the fundraising started- 400 x 400 = 1600 blocks; 1600 blocks x $25 each gives us $40,000- simple! We tearfully ended our stay in Gusau with the $40,000 figure in the forefront and fleshed out the fundraising campaign on the plane ride home. This involved approaching our respective churches, writing to newspapers, approaching friends and personal contacts. While the figure seemed totally out of reach, we took comfort in the chain of events that initially provided the land and the down payment.