Statement from the Chairman 2018 Annual Report

2018 has been an exceptional and memorable year for School Aid as we marked 20 years of our commitment to enhance quality education and promote literacy in Africa. We are immensely proud that this commitment has been recognised through the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. It acknowledges the sustained efforts by so many people across the years that have enabled School Aid to grow and flourish, and so to make an increasingly significant impact on African children’s lives.

School Aid delivered our targets for the second year of our second three-year partnership with The Peter Cundill Foundation. The Foundation’s most generous support has enabled School Aid to develop our Africa presence and to expand our literacy initiative of managed, sustainable school libraries from South Africa to Malawi and Tanzania. In 2018 a first library was launched in each country, while plans for the first in Lesotho are well advanced for early 2019. We added two more school libraries to the 20 already operating in South Africa, working with our sister organisation, School Aid South Africa.

Some 65 Volunteers in School Aid’s UK warehouse selected, prepared and packed 167,195 books, which we delivered to 142 African schools, to meet each school’s specific request. 109,712 children are benefitting from this substantial effort.

Volunteers with librarian experience prepared 3,000 shelf ready, catalogued books for our first library in Bumba Primary School, Malawi, using the software we install in each African school library.

This achievement, as well as the many other initiatives in 2018, were steered by our capable UK staff: General Manager, Clare Junak, and Thomas Broom, our UK and Africa Operations Manager.  We owe much to their careful and insightful guidance of School Aid’s work and to the warm environment that they maintain for the Volunteers who regularly give their time to School Aid, as well as to the many visitors we welcome. Our staff and Trustees have overseen School Aid’s transition from a Trust to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, with the more relevant governance for charities such as ours.

Our cost-effective operation is due to the number of companies who give their services pro bono, both in the UK and Africa. We acknowledge and appreciate this generosity and are most grateful to each one.

Among our UK staff we recruited Caroline Cox as our new, part time, Fundraising and Development Manager. Caroline’s 22 years of fundraising experience will greatly enhance School Aid’s work. Our part time Marketing Manager, Leona Whieldon has had a busy year promoting the range of School Aid’s UK and Africa activities.

Our Community Fundraising team delivered a highly successful Fun Run in the summer and Film Night in the autumn. The work of the School Aid Volunteers who extend their support to providing such valuable community initiatives is immensely appreciated.

Our Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organisation. In a “first” for School Aid, six Volunteers visited Lesotho at their own expense to see for themselves the result of School Aid’s resources and literacy initiatives in schools there. The experience brought School Aid’s UK and Africa activities uniquely together and created relationships and memories important to all participants. 

In this busy, demanding year I am especially grateful to our able and experienced Board of Trustees whose support I have enjoyed for ten years. Rob Walther, as Treasurer has so effectively stewarded and generously contributed to School Aid’s finances, notably in 2018 through a most enjoyable and successful Golf Day. We most warmly appreciate Rob’s support. Allan Westray has served with great effect as the Chair of our Fundraising Committee but has left the Board at the end of 2018. We are immensely grateful to Allan for championing School Aid in Buckinghamshire and beyond. His approach to The Speaker secured a memorable 20th Anniversary reception in the Speaker’s Chambers of the House of Commons which allowed us to thank key supporters and to lift our profile more widely.

School Aid’s Board of Trustees was further strengthened by the appointment of Cathy Newbury, a Zimbabwean who brings extensive experience in education and management as well as African charitable work to a sound Board of Trustees.

It has been my privilege, as one who has lived in both rural and urban Africa for ten years, to chair School Aid for a similar length, to have been party to contributing to such growth in impact and scope in support of African children. I will be handing over this privilege to a new Chair in 2019.

Ntebo Phahlane, principal of Tsosoloso Ya Afrika High School, Johannesburg, represented African partner schools at our 20th Anniversary event in the Speakers Chambers. Ntebo spoke from the heart in describing the difference our work makes to the lives of those who attend the disadvantaged schools we support. Ntebo noted that” many people would have walked on by” when confronted with the challenges our Founder and President, Lady Baker, witnessed in an African school in 1998. The fact that she did not, but chose to act to confront the challenges, creating and nurturing School Aid, has enhanced the lives of many thousands of African children. So many people have also dedicated time, expertise and support which has given School Aid such substantial impact and growth over twenty years.

Since 2007 our records show that 697,598 African children have benefitted from 1,442,026 books that we have delivered to 1,100 poorly resourced schools.

On behalf of School Aid, I thank you all.


Janis Mowlam



25th February 2019