South Tyneside sends container of school essentials to Africa

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Benevolent businesses could barely contain themselves when a South Tyneside College boss delivered a plan to boost education in Africa.

An eight-tonne freight container – fully loaded with books, computers, desks, musical instruments and other teaching essentials – began a 5,500-mile journey from South Tyneside College to the Youth Contact Centre school in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, yesterday.

This marks the end of nine months’ hard work

Les Watson

The initiative, called Project Salibonani Bulawayo, was the brainchild of South Tyneside College governor Les Watson, 64.

The retired Audit Commission inspector and maths teacher worked at the YCC in the 1980s and was dismayed by its dramatic decline on a return visit last year.

Mr Watson set about seeking donations that could be used to help it regain its former glory, with engineering giant Siemens donating the container, airline Emirates giving £250 of book vouchers, and other backers including North-East shipping services firms Solar Solve Marine and Advanced Inspection and Marine Services, and South Tyneside College.

Les said: “This marks the end of nine months’ hard work and commitment by the college.

“Staff, students and governors have contributed their time to raise funds and collect and collate donations.”

“Importantly, the project would not have progressed without the generosity of local businesses.”