School Aid is a volunteer-led organisation. Apart from logistics and office management, both of which require the commitment of full-time professionals, we are contingent on: the goodwill of our Patrons and Trustees; the schools that generously donate books and stationery; the businesses that pledge their services to deliver them to us; the volunteers who pack the books ready for shipment; the sponsors who contribute to the logistical costs of getting them to Africa; and the enthusiastic helpers who welcome and distribute the donations at the other end.
School Aid brings together the aspirations of schools, businesses and local people, all of whom would like to see their excess or surplus resources used for the benefit of others, rather than left to landfill.
Without this generosity of purpose from so many like-minded people and organisations, School Aid would find it impossible to continue working towards its vision where all schools in Africa are self-sustaining, and where the teaching and learning environments are such that every African student can advance and contribute to the developmental, social and economic needs of their country.
How it all started
In 1998 Joy Baker, with her husband Sir Scott Baker, visited a rural primary school in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. In spite of the stark lack of materials, they noted a huge enthusiasm among the children and staff for learning to read and write.
As the English language played a major role in the curriculum, Joy envisaged the difference that surplus educational materials from the UK would make for these pupils and others in Africa. Within a few weeks of her return to the UK she had collected sufficient resources for the first shipment, which was generously transported free by Air Zimbabwe.
Since then, her charity School Aid has grown steadily and was granted charitable status in 1998. Joy and her colleagues regularly visit schools in the UK to promote interest and learning about recipient schools in Africa and to gain support for collecting materials. Suitable resources, from textbooks, library books, school stationery, and other surplus educational supplies, are donated by schools and businesses across the country. More than 800 state and independent schools have donated items.