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Blog category: School links

School Links Conference & British Council Training

Written by Tsegaye Alemneh & Rohan Moon

Link Ethiopia’s Annual School Links Conference and training is held in Bishoftu town and Adama town. The conference and the training took three consecutive days, 24 head teachers and 58 Link coordinators (teachers) from different schools participated in the training.


Teachers and Directors who attended the workshop

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The aim of this conference was to report the main activities of the School Links Scheme and provide a training that helps Link Schools improve the quality of teaching and learning through fostering core (21st century) skills in to the classrooms.

‘Introduction to the core skills’ and ‘critical thinking and problem solving’ are the topics of the courses delivered to the participants in collaboration with the British Council.

After the introduction to the core skills course, the participants have got hints about six core skills and how they can integrate in the classroom. The lists of the core skills are critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and imagination, communication and collaboration, citizenship, digital Literacy, student leadership and personal development. Among the six core skills, in depth training was delivered on critical thinking and problem solving.

In addition trainees, who delivered the training, are professionals that have had a lot of experiences in delivering different courses inside and outside the country. They are also validated by the external body to give this training.


The Charity working to improve the schools and educating systems in Ethiopia

The need for this training is emanated from the fact that on one hand many children are still out of school, but also the fact many children are in school, however these children are not learning the basics. This is badly affecting Ethiopia, which is a country located in Sub- Saharan Africa.

The participants got their own module which they could use for their future reference. The module introduces the idea of a plan-teach and reflect cycle. There was an opportunity during the workshop session to develop activity plans.


Educating the teachers on the school systems that helps to develop young children’s learnings

As the result of engaging with the workshop material, teachers and school leaders had an awareness of the need for school systems to develop young children with core skills. The teachers planned to use a number of highly effective teaching methods to enable them to implement the teaching of core skills.

The course suits all teachers who teach different subjects in the classroom of all grade levels. Link Ethiopia is working to provide opportunities so that many principals and teachers can be benefited from this training.

Two and half months after the implementation of this training, there was a monitoring process in which the participants shared their experiences of how they integrated the training into the classroom. Most of the participants mentioned that the way they taught became effective and their student’s achievement had increased.

The concerned government officials also evaluated the impacts of the training and reported to us saying that the training was “intensive but effective”

Posted in 2016, Ethiopian news, Projects, School links, Teacher Training |

World Water Day – Water and Jobs

Written by Ama Konneh

World Water Day is an international opportunity for people to learn more about water related problems, highlight and increase awareness on these issues, and make a global impact. The day itself dates back to 1993 when the United Nations General Assembly dedicated March 22nd as the first World Water Day and has since become an annual affair. Each year, World Water Day focuses on a specific aspect of water – the theme for 2016 is ‘Water and Jobs’. Previous years have included Water and Sustainable Development, Water and Energy, and Water Cooperation.


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Clean water should be accessible to all and has been explicitly declared as a fundamental human right – ‘the right to water and sanitation’. However as we know, millions still go without this basic necessity and are forced to drink contaminated water containing harmful bacteria which leads to thousands of cases of water-borne diseases every day.

Access to water and sanitation in Ethiopia is some of the poorest in the world. Nevertheless, Ethiopia is on its way to achieving the Millennium Development Goal related to water. More than half of the households (54%) have access to an improved source of drinking water, compared to 35% in 2005. Despite this vast progress, the improvement of sanitation is proving more challenging. The National Water Sanitation and Hygiene data indicates that children in schools are particularly vulnerable as only 33% have improved sanitation and a mere 31% have access to safe water. Samuel Godfrey, Chief of WASH Unicef in Ethiopia stresses that “we should focus on women and children as the primary beneficiaries of water in Ethiopia”. Poor water sanitation in Ethiopia means that diarrhoea is responsible for 46% of infant mortality and the capital city, Addis Abba, is ranked 6th dirtiest city in the world.


Many of the events that take place on World Water Day are held worldwide and raising awareness takes many forms. This includes theatrical and musical celebrations of water, sports competitions, fundraising or donating to charity for those who are in dire need of clean and affordable water, and educating all generations on the importance of protecting water resources to prevent water scarcity.

Link Ethiopia endeavour’s to provide children in Ethiopia with a better quality of teaching and a range of school resources. We encourage teachers and tutors to use these materials to enhance the children’s education on this important day and further emphasise the significance of clean water as well as the consequences of drinking unsafe water-


Learning activities:

Understanding Cholera

Exploring water sustainability

Posted in 2016, Other news, School links, Water and sanitation |

International Youth Day – Empowering young people

Written by Cecilia

The International Youth Day – which takes place on August 12th every year- has been set up by the United Nations (UN) in 2000. Youth is considered the time of life between childhood and adulthood (15-24 years-old). This day has different focuses and aims:

1- Bringing youth issues and needs to the attention of the international community.
2- Celebrating the potential of youth as active participants in today’s global society.
3- Stress on the rights of young people to have full access to education, adequate healthcare, employment opportunities, financial services and full participation in civil life.
4- Shaping the youth not just as passive beneficiaries of development efforts but as a force for positive social change.
5- Calling attention on the limited opportunities for youth engagement in many areas of the society.


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Especially in a moment of economic uncertainty, it is important that the international community not only pays attention to the issues and needs that young people experience nowadays, but also that countries recognise the potential of the youth in terms of innovation, creativity, energy and foresight. Young people are those people who will manage the future and they must be given the possibility to learn and grow.

Last year’s International Youth Day theme was “Youth and Mental Health”, while this year it will be “Youth Civic Engagement”. Attention is being drawn to a given set of cultural, social and legal issues affecting youth and the international community is invited to both take an action to help them overcome the challenge they face and involving them in the decision-making processes. The engagement and participation of youth in society is considered to be essential to achieving sustainable human development, positive social change and peace. Nevertheless, the opportunity for youth to engage politically, economically and socially are often low or non-existent. The International Youth Day is also an awareness-raising day where attention is called on the need to empower young people who will be managing the future of the world. The International Youth Day is a pivotal moment for action, both for youth and for countries. During this occasion, workshops, concerts, cultural events and meeting are held in order to engage the youth in conversations with their local, national and international leaders and to open up a space for young people to share their message and their stories/ideas on civic engagement activities. The International Youth Day is an occasion for young people to raise their voices and this years’ theme in particular – youth civic engagement – is about the youth taking action!

web_sponsor_3.jpg Link Club

Link Ethiopia’s aim is to change lives through education. If young people have access to education, they will even be more aware of their rights, more active within their communities and in the global system. Throughout the Sponsorship Programme every year more children are given the possibility to attend school and become more engaged community members and more active world citizens. One of many projects made possible by the Child Sponsorship Programme has been the construction of a New Library for Arbatu Ensesa School in Gondar. Child sponsorship isn’t only about supporting one child’s education, it rather helps to foster a stronger, more aware and more inquisitive group of people that one day will take active part in the community and in the broader national and global system.

Link Ethiopia School Linking Programme is another important initiative that aims at creating a more aware and engaged body of young people. This project aim to promote:

1- Cultural awareness, awareness of diversity and shared aims and ambitions between UK and Ethiopian pupils and teachers.
2- Racial Harmony.
3- Exchange of ideas and thoughts about important issues such as HIV prevention or climate change.
4- Global awareness and empathy.
5- Respect of other cultures through an exchange of traditions and experiences.

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On this occasion, we want to highlight Link Ethiopia’s work, that, through the promotion of equal access to quality education, cultural exchange and respect of diversity, actively participates in the mission celebrated during the International Youth Day 2015, namely the one of creating a youth which is more engaged in civil society.

Posted in 2015, Child sponsorship, Global Education, Libraries, books and literacy, Other news, School links, Uncategorized |

Libraries – the beating heart of a school

Written by Mathilde

Running since 2013, Link Ethiopia’s Libraries and Literacy project aims to improve the literacy ability of students in more than 40 schools across Ethiopia, as well as promoting the pure fun of reading for young children. As we reach the end of the second year of the project we are so pleased to observe the dramatic and important changes taking place.

In 2013 the Waterloo Foundation helped us to start the project in 20 schools. With additional support from Jolly Phonics, from school partners here in the UK and from individual donors we have been able to expand the project to 46 schools in total, so far.

The library improvement aspect of the project encouraged schools to develop the library facilities available to their students. Each school was given a small grant to contribute to this improvement, along with guidance, training and ongoing support. A total of 4000 ETB was awarded, with 2000 ETB for books and 2000 ETB to enhance the library environment.

Some examples of the changes made possible by the libraries improvement programme can be seen below:

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The library improvement in Aste Bekafa Elementary School is clear for all to see.

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Kera Hora Elementary School have been able to build a brand new library

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The new library in Adama No. 6 Elementary school offers more space and a greater choice of books

To improve the libraries, a ‘Library Award’ scheme was also included in the project. Throughout the year, schools had the opportunity to work towards one of three library awards: bronze, silver or gold. These awards were assessed on the basis of 42 criteria points which included the number of books lent; attractiveness; usability; library club and opening hours. This scheme really worked, encouraging schools to improve their libraries across the board. In 2014-15, we have seen many libraries move up to award scale; by the end of the year over half the schools were achieving silver or gold.

The award achievements have a direct impact on the amount of students reading and the amount of books they read. Through the library award scheme we have increased the number of schools lending at least 25 books a week from 3 to 17, and those lending 50 books from 1 to 7.

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The library of Time’s Choice Academy is really busy

Focusing on one element of the library award criteria; we observed that at the beginning of the year there were just two schools where at least 80 students a week visited the library and one school where at least 150 visited. At the end of the year, these numbers have increased to 17 and 7 respectively.

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Sincil Sports College and Times Choice Academy

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Barlaston First School and Adama No. 6 Elementary

We also asked our UK schools – some of whom had raised funds so their Ethiopian partners could be part of the Libraries & Literacy project – to share images of their libraries with us to help librarians in Ethiopia visualise the possibilities for their own literacy environment. This encouragement was really helpful and now many of the improved libraries in Ethiopian schools display the images from their partner school on the walls. For larger collections head over to our photo site.

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Kera Hora Elementary and Hankham Primary

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Brackenbury Primary and Beza Elementary

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St. Stephens CE Primary and Atse Bekafa Elementary

The Libraries and Literacy project has been a real success. The children, teaching and librarian staff have made fantastic improvements over the past year, and we look forward to seeing this continue.

Posted in 2015, Libraries, books and literacy, Projects, School links, Uncategorized |

Beza to Brackenbury

Written by David Fricker, Brackenbury Link Coordinator

Another exciting chapter in the Brackenbury-Beza partnership, the visit by the Head and Link Coordinator from Beza to Brackenbury, took place this month! With the partnership established in 2012, Brackenbury Primary School and Beza (Besebarok) Primary and Secondary School have now completed two reciprocal visits, funding by the British Council Connecting Classrooms grant and supported by Link Ethiopia.

Partnership visit participants

The partnership between the two schools continues to strengthen sharing experiences, on the teaching and learning, focusing this year on playground games and gardening projects.

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The visitors from Beza were treated to an action packed arrival weekend: sightseeing in London, including the dress rehearsal for ‘Trooping the Colour’ (the annual Queen’s birthday parade), a river cruise and ride on London’s cable car! There was also time to take a train to Brighton and paddle in the sea!

Ethiopia quiz 2The children at Brackenbury impressed the guests with their knowledge of Ethiopia through a quiz! Luckily, the visitors were available to give some clues to the more tricky questions, such as: what year is it in the Ethiopian calendar? (2007) and what is Genna and Fasika? (Christmas and Easter). During the week, the Head and Link Coordinator were able to observe learning in every class in the school; lessons ranging from art to mathematics, from English to swimming. There was also opportunity to meet Brackenbury’s Link Ethiopia Club. The club members impressed the visitors with an Ethiopian dance from the Gurage region! The guests helped the club members write their names in Amharic script.


Linked to the shared learning experiences, Teaching and learning 3the visitors saw the school’s gardening projects and gave some helpful advice on how Brackenbury could better care for its plants. Also, Brackenbury students demonstrated the Ethiopian games they had learnt from the shared learning experiences with Beza. The guests were able to see a range of the sporting and playground activities at Brackenbury too.

A farewell coffee ceremony was held to wish the guests a safe return journey. Staff from across Brackenbury enjoyed coffee and popcorn. There was the wonderful opportunity for all the staffs that have been fortunate to participate in the reciprocal partnership visits to come together. As the partnership continues to develop; both schools look forward to the next chapter in the link and the development of exciting exchange projects for the new academic year in September!


The Beza Link Ethiopia Coordinator gave this message of thanks: “Thank you for the wonderful week in your school. It was the best experience of our lives. We enjoyed meeting the staff, the link club members and the whole school community. We had a wonderful time observing and participating in lessons. The tour was a great experience.

Posted in 2015, School links, Uncategorized |

What can learning phonics do for 3 shy sponsored children?

Written by Mathilde

The short answer is – quite a lot! Read on for the slightly longer answer.

Link Ethiopia sponsorship programme is in place to support children who face greater hurdles when accessing education than their peers. These barriers are often simple; not being able to afford a school uniform or the basic resources necessary to complete school work. Because of their difficult life circumstances, these children and young people may also greatly benefit from additional tuition or extra-curricular training & support – so we make this possible too.

Volunteers supporting Link Ethiopia often step into this role, and with their experience, training and insight they can offer these children that vital bit of support – support they are unlikely to have seen before. What do you think the impact of this can be?

Kalkidan Grade 7 and BarbaraKalkidan, in Grade 7, learning with Barbara, Link Ethiopia’s volunteer teacher and mentor.

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A great recent example of this is the English training sessions run in Yekatit 23 Elementary School in Ethiopia. Barbara, whose background is in education, put together and ran a tuition club for the older sponsored children at the school. Barbara focused on this area because

the end of school Grade 8 exams play a big part in determining what doors remain open for future education and life“.

Kalkidan, Betelhem and Mekdes were three students who attended those sessions. Shy at first, they nevertheless worked extremely hard and gained confidence over the duration of the lessons. The focus was on learning that was relevant to their curriculum and to succeed in their upcoming exams. One method used was phonics, to improve their English reading & writing ability. In the final session, they put this learning into practice and wrote a short letter to their sponsors, detailing and illustrating their own lives and their recent progress.

The three students really enjoyed the sessions and had the right attitude to learn a lot from them. At the end they received a well-deserved certificate to attest to their hard work and dedication. These sessions were a success and a good way to focus on the specific needs of each child. We will work with Barbara to continue the English tuition and phonics programme next school year.

Mulusew, school director presents Betelhem with her certificateBetelhem received her certificate from Link Ethiopia, Barbara and her school Teacher.

The volunteer program is a wonderful opportunity to change children live’s through education. By helping them to learn, progress and succeed, volunteers like Barbara contributed valuable time and experience to build these young people’s future. You too can take part to this adventure and make a real difference. Link Ethiopia is currently looking for volunteer teachers and librarians. And you can learn more about our work with phonics here.

The sponsorship program gives you the opportunity to donate what amounts to few pence a day to enable a child to go to school, have the books & resources needed to succeed at school.

Betelham (left) and Kalkidan

Students doing their English homework

Posted in 2015, Child sponsorship, Global Education, School links, Volunteering |

What does Cultural Diversity mean at Link Ethiopia?

Written by Cecilia

21st of May has been declared the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development by the UN General Assembly in 2002.

Hand In HandWhat is culture and what is cultural diversity?

In its first meaning the term “culture” meant the “spirit of a people”. Culture is the way we approach the world, the means we have to understand life and the mediator between us and the world. Culture is the combination of all the knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, laws and customs of a population. As a human manifestation every culture has to be respected.

The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is an occasion to celebrate cultural diversity and to invite the world’s population to understand cultural differences as a means to enrich and strengthen humanity instead of a way to promote stereotypes and division.

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Cultural misunderstandings, often grounded on the fear of the unknown and on the wrong belief that one’s culture is superior and right, is one of the major reasons for conflict in the World. Celebrating the value of cultural diversity, promoting inter-cultural dialogue and inclusion is therefore a way to build peace and development. Respect for cultural diversity and inter-cultural dialogue must be at the heart of our everyday attitude towards the world in an attempt to create a cohesive and inclusive humanity. Development and peace building are inseparable from culture and cultural diversity.

Cultural diversity can be celebrated with every-day life gestures and the respect for different cultures can be taught through education in schools. This is what Link Ethiopia promotes through its School Linking programme. The respect for other cultures is something that has to be understood in the earlier stage of one’s life and education is crucial in framing one’s vision of the world. By promoting partnership between UK and Ethiopian schools, Link Ethiopia encourages mutual learning and exchange of traditions and experiences. Through the School Linking programme both teachers and students are invited to find similarities between their cultures, respect and learn from differences.


Children who study in one of the partner schools are invited to exchange letters and drawings with their distant friends in an attempt to shorten this distance through the sharing of cultural elements. At the same time, teachers who visit schools, whether in Ethiopia or in UK, go through a process of exchange and a mutual teaching/learning experience. They share projects, expertise, and knowledge.


An important project case study is the one carried out between Beza Primary and Secondary School and their UK partners Brackenbury Primary School. By sharing information and pictures about school programmes related to gardening – with a focus on sustainable living and global warming – they have been able to share knowledge and understanding between two different cultures and methods. This exchange strengthened both schools that learning from each other’s work improve their own! This is an example of how an understanding of each other’s culture and tradition can be a source of strength and improvement. Link Ethiopia addresses the broader aim of building peace and development through the celebration of cultural diversity.

10 things everyone can do to celebrate cultural diversity today

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Posted in 2015, Global Education, Inclusive education, School links, Uncategorized |

‘Beautiful by Sky Hormbrey’

Written by Laurence

The wonderful single ‘Beautiful’ is out now! The song, written and performed by Sky Hormbrey from Headington School, is raising money for their partner school in Ethiopia – Hamle 19!

The school have done amazing things over a Link relationship that has lasted many years. We really hope this amazing effort furthers the fantastic work they’re already engaged in.

You can download the song on iTunes here, and help us change lives through education:

Posted in 2015, Classrooms and furniture, Ethiopian news, Fundraising, Global Education, Other news, Project expeditions, School links, Volunteering, Water and sanitation |

Volunteers: The tipping point

by Tefera Teklu

Tef n Hannah

with Hannah Ray, circa 2007

My favourite subject has always been English. And this was mainly because of my 5th grade teacher, Gashé (Amharic for Mr.) Tariku. He came to replace a fierce teacher, Gashé Shibabaw, who used to beat us, shout or stare at us menacingly for our inability to read. During Shibabaw’s reign of terror, some of us little brats devised a way to avoid his wrath. We persuaded our elder siblings to write the pronunciation for each English word in Amharic. But one day one of our classmates read a story very fast for a child at that grade level and Gashé Shibabaw grew suspicious. A day of reckoning finally came.


He ordered all of us to put our English exercise books on the table for scrutiny. Those of us who wrote the Amharic version of the English sounds were told to kneel and we were punished severely. Fortunately, soon after this incident, this teacher left our school for further education. Ironically, we all felt sad when he told us the news.

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Gashé Tariku was one of a rare breed of teachers in those days. He was funny, encouraging and patient. I personally made the most out of this tide of change. I gained a lot of confidence once I started to ask and answer questions or vice versa. I passed my exams with flying colours and thought I was doing well. However, because the focus was always on grammatical rules (we were encouraged to learn them by heart), I felt a bit of a let-down as soon as I joined Addis Ababa University to study English language and literature. I collided head-on with the fact that I sorely lacked in my writing and speaking skills, which seemed to be the dominant things we were forced to do. So every time I had a presentation or a written assignment to do, I felt very frustrated. Especially, my presentations were always a mess (hilarious for my classmates, torture for me).

with Matt and Chris at the Andinet

with Matt and Chris at the Andinet Hotel

Once, I memorised two pages for a presentation comparing and contrasting young versus old age. Towards the end of the first paragraph I got stuck with the phrase ‘regardless of’, which I repeated four times, the last one forcefully. When the professor told me to sit, my friends could no longer stifle their laughter. Another time, I did a term paper on Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. But on the presentation I was mute. This time I was furious with myself. I went back to my dormitory and cried my eyes out. A series of incidents like this made me worried if I could be able to compete with my classmates, most of whom were from private or missionary schools, and still graduate.

In an effort to bring myself up to speed, I joined the British Council library. One day I was coming back from the British Council library with a borrowed grammar book; old habits die hard. One of my classmates I ran into admonished me not to rely on such books to improve my English. Instead, he suggested I should keep reading abridged fictions. Duly noted!

Amidst all this, I was presented with a wonderful opportunity. I met the director of Gondarlink (now Link Ethiopia) Mr Chris Grant in Addis Ababa who introduced me to Solomon. I was amongst the first students who benefitted through the letter exchange scheme in Gondar at Fasiledes School (my friend’s name was Elliott Smith). In Addis, Solomon and I began welcoming the volunteers, originally from Dr Challoner’s Grammar School but later from schools all over England. Solomon did all the talking and I did all the listening and nodding. I wonder if I was able to understand any of the conversations.

with Chris, Sachin and Solomon

with Chris, Sachin and Solomon

Unfortunately, one of the bright stars of this programme, Solomon, was suddenly out of radar. And I found myself as the only liaison between London and Addis Ababa. So when volunteers came, I welcomed them from the Bole Airport, took them to Andinet Hotel, show them around for two or three days and then saw them off to Gondar. The challenge to communicate and understand another culture began in earnest at this point and the rest is history.

After working in Mekelle University for the last six years, I am now back to Gondar, working for Link Ethiopia. It felt like a family reunion. But I wonder where all my teachers and the volunteers are now? What do they do? What do they look like? Heaven knows! I hope you are all doing well and I want to tell you all that I am grateful.

You will always be in my memories. Cheers!

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Posted in 2015, Ethiopian news, Global Education, Other news, School links, Uncategorized, Volunteering |

Brackenbury to Beza

Written by David Fricker, Brackenbury Primary School Link Coordinator

Brackenbury to Beza by Link Ethiopia on Exposure

Posted in 2015, Global Education, School links | Tagged , , , , , , , ,