HAVING grown up in the West Point slums in war-racked Liberia, John Duncan knows the challenges the children face when it comes to accessing a school education.
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Armed with fist full of funds, raised through a combination of his own savings and a donation from a friend, John headed back to his hometown during the recent holiday break to begin turning his childhood dream of building a school into a reality.
The Bulahdelah Central School teacher said a good education will give children the best options for their futures.
“I grew up in the slums, but I always wanted to make a difference,” he said.
“I wanted to travel overseas to acquire a decent education then go back and make a positive change and serve as a role model. I want kids to know that anything is possible once you are determined and ready to work towards achieving your goals.”
John said the first stage of his project involves building classrooms, an administration office and purchasing a bus to transport children to the school.
“It will be the first specialist STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) school in Africa,” he said.
“Initially, it will focus at a junior level for children in Kindergarten to Year 3, but over time I hope to extend it to Year 12.”
John came to Australia 2009 on a study scholarship from Macquarie University.
After graduating, he worked in Sydney schools before moving to Bulahdelah with his wife and three young children earlier this year.
“When the opportunity came up to move to this area I grabbed it,” John said.
“I enjoy teaching and the kids and staff here are great.”
After returning from his trip next week, John said he will be focused on raising more funds to further expand his project.
“Every dollar will go a long way towards providing a decent STEM education for all African children,” he said.
John hopes the new school, which has been years in the planning, will be ready to open in September.