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Students donate computers to schools in West Africa in aid of international link-up

A GREAT Barr school took another step towards achieving its dream of linking schoolchildren in Birmingham with those in Sierra Leone this week.

At 6.30am yesterday, a container left Great Barr School, loaded with 60 computers, screens, keyboards, mice and a generator, and began the long journey across land and sea to the Waterloo Schools in West Africa.

Neil Morland, advanced skills teacher in geography, said: "It's going to be amazing to see all the equipment set up in the school.

"I've never doubted we could pull it off but it's no less satisfying to see it all happening.

"We hope to get the children in Sierra Leone connected to the internet so they can carry out collaborative projects with our children; we know there is so much of enormous value that they can learn from each other."

The container making its way to Africa this week is part of an ongoing project between the two schools that started in October 2008.

Mr Morland answered a plea from the Waterloo Schools Charity and co-ordinated the collection of out-of-date text books from all subject areas which were then sent to Sierra Leone.

This was followed by a trip by Mr Morland and three other members of staff to visit the Waterloo Schools to see how Great Barr School could help them in a way that will also benefit their own students.

Dan Locke-Wheaton, who went on the trip, and helped organise the transportation of the old computers from the UK to Africa, said: "The whole project has been a great team effort and we're so grateful to the people who have helped us.

"All the wire for the computer centre which we're going to set up overseas has been donated by a local business.

"Another firm has loaned us a forklift truck and driver to get the generator, bought with the assistance of another charity, into the container."

In the forthcoming October half-term holiday, the school will be taking another group of students to Sierra Leone to work with the children at the Waterloo Schools.

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Neil Morland

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