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Blog category: Classrooms and furniture
1st Jun 2016
Written by Ama Konneh
On the 9th of May, the opening ceremony for the opening of Phase 2 of our St George’s School project was held. This phase saw the construction of a further four classrooms (on top of the original 6), an IT suite for children to expand their knowledge of technology and develop IT skills that could potentially improve their future prospects, toilet accommodations to better standards of sanitation and basic hygiene, a guardhouse, and workshops. These improvements allow for a varied education syllabus and encourage creativity as well as the teaching of vital life-long skills.
“St George’s School hosted an opening ceremony for Phase 2 of construction. On behalf of the school community, I would like to thank everyone who has supported us in this project and made it such a success. It was a lovely day and the photos below represent just a few of the happy memories I will take away from the event.”
Hannah Dillon – Director of Education, St. George’s School
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Children singing the Ethiopian national anthem to start the ceremony
“First of all, I am glad to be invited here for the opening ceremony of the phase 2 building at St George’s. In addition, it is my pleasure to say some words here in front of you all.
Be it in facilities, the quality of the teachers, or the teaching and learning process, St George’s is certainly the highest quality school in Gondar. The results which the students have achieved show that there is a good flow of teaching and learning.
These additional classrooms will be helpful for other orphans and vulnerable children who wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to go to school. According to the information from our supervisors, St George’s School is one of the schools which produces talented students and gives us hope of the future of Ethiopia.
Finally, if St George’s School continues as it is, it will be the model school for Gondar City and for the Amhara region. We will always be at your side. Be strong and thank you.”
Mr Yigsaw Mekonnen – Head of the Gondar City Education Office
First day teaching Grade 2 children in one of the new classroms
The partnership behind this project: Link Ethiopia were brought on board the St. George’s School project by the Northwood African Education Foundation, a charity founded by Malcolm and Katharine Colquhoun, to take on the on-the-ground aspects of the projects; principally, the construction of Phase One and Phase Two of the school.
“My involvement in Ethiopia began in November 2014 when I flew here to manage the building of St George’s phase two construction.
Qualified as an architect in 2013, I was looking for an adventure and Ethiopia has definitely not failed to deliver. I moved back to the UK last summer continuing in my role as project architect for the school.
This week I flew out to take part in the opening ceremony alongside the founders of the school Sir Malcolm and Lady Colquhoun. This marked the completion of the Phase 2 construction – a year on from when we broke ground in May 2015.
It has been a terrific week, made mostly by the presence of the parents, local community, director of the education and mayoral office on the day.
After one failed bid, many macchiatos and mixed juice it was a gratifying moment to see the children take occupation of 4 new classrooms, a chai hut, ICT/library along with a new guard house, workshop, store and sanitary facilities.
As we move forward with Phase 3, which will take the school through from Grade 2 to Grade 12, it was a gratifying moment for all. Personally it bookmarked all of the fantastic people I have had the opportunity to work with and volunteer alongside.
Long may Link Ethiopia’s involvement in the community continue.”
Project Architect Lucy
The construction team, Birara(director), Lucy(architect), Sisay(foreman), Endeshaw(contractor), Malcom(founder), Elsa(manager of Link Ethiopia)
We would like to thank the Link Ethiopia and Broomwood staff in Ethiopia who worked on this phase of the project, the architects and volunteers, the construction company, the NAEF, Gondar Education Office, and all the children, families and communities at St. George’s School. Link Ethiopia would like to express our gratitude for the involvement of everyone who helped to make this project a success and give vulnerable children the opportunity to have an education.
Broomwood thank you display
The ceremony was over just before it started to rain
1st Jun 2016
Written by Rhi and Ama
Ethiopia is still a country of economic divides. Although there has been major progress recently, there is still an obvious gap between urban and rural areas in terms of basics such as education, sanitation and development. In the countryside, an agricultural way of life often means that time is limited, as rearing livestock and tending crops leaves little to spare. The schooling resources for rural areas are often scarce. Educational facilities are lacking, and the school buildings themselves can be old, unsafe, with poor structural integrity and reduced light and space.
As part of our rural education campaign, Link Ethiopia has been working with Girlguiding North East England and AidCamps International to rebuild schools and classrooms in the satellite developments and farming communities around Gondar. Structures that are bright, airy and welcoming are provided, as well as having more space and facilities for the children using them. This is important because with limited space, schools may not have capacity for all the children, or be able to offer education past a certain age. This means many children cannot continue in education, as the travel to the next nearest school that offers further education can simply be too much, leaving them no time to complete domestic or agricultural tasks required, let alone tackle homework. Each additional year of schooling increases a person’s earning potential by 10%, meaning that the possibility of lifting an area out of poverty becomes more of an attainable goal with the correct infrastructure in place.
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A typical classroom in a rural area
Andinet School is one of the most recent school partners in this joint partnership. The school previously had a rundown set of classrooms, with lumpy stone floors, poor roofing, and unplastered walls. Originally built from traditional wood and mud, one in particular had fallen into a state of disrepair and was no longer serviceable as a building. Providing little shelter from the elements, the classroom was a difficult environment for young children to be in. As a small space, access was restricted and some of the children could not progress to higher grades.
Link Ethiopia worked with the local community to discuss what they needed out of a new school building. A double classroom was planned, allowing children the space and security they need to continue their education. We had worked with a volunteer architect on previous school projects, and the structural changes she had suggested to improve the life of the classrooms were also implemented here. This included plastering the mud and wood, metal shutters for security at night and use of a wooden cross beam to prevent lean on the building.
Our volunteers and their hardwork
Link Ethiopia partnered with Girlguiding North East England and AidCamps International over the last few years to fundraise for, and sign up volunteers, to open this vital resource for children in rural Ethiopia. AidCamps team of volunteers were motivated and engaged with the project, and helped ensure the building was completed on time. A number of Girlguides will also be going out this year to continue the restoration and improvement work at Andinet School – this will be their 2nd visit.
The classroom was opened in plenty of time for the Summer term. Representatives from the education authority and the local kebele attended, as did the school director. The project build had been challenging in places, liaising between contractors, volunteers and the local authorities, so we were delighted to have opened on time and to see the difference this build will make straight away. The classroom is spacious and a positive space for children to develop and learn in. Having previously had to finish educating children at grade 3, the school now plans to educate children up to grade 5. The opportunities this will provide for the local children are huge.
The new classroom in use
Link aims to build a further 20 new classrooms in rural areas, with a focus on schools that cannot currently offer all grades. For more about how to get involved, you can read our page here.
16th Nov 2015
Written by Zemene
Its not very often that donors to development organisations get to see exactly how their money has been spent, and that’s why I was delighted that young Misha, along with his mother and young brother, were able to come with me to visit Chihira school, in rural Amhara, to see the results of his committed fundraising. Chihira school is only accessible by foot – its about a 45 minute walk from the main road. However, given that a sponsored walk had been Misha’s main fundraising activity (177 miles walking along Offa’s Dyke!) I didn’t think he would mind!
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Whilst great strides have been made in education in Ethiopia recently, there unfortunately remains a large gap in both access to, and quality of, education between urban and rural areas. The inaccessibility of rural schools makes them harder to support, and the more agrarian way of life in rural areas, where large amounts of time have to be devoted to farming livestock and tending to crops, means that rural schools suffer from limited resources.
In 2013 Misha had raised £2,534.05 and with this money we were able to build 2 new classrooms at Chihira School. By increasing the number of classrooms from 5 to 7, the school is now able to operate more efficiently, and now students are able to carry on schooling beyond Grade 5, without sacrificing the time available to the children to help with family tasks. This is crucial to ensuring that rural children do not drop out from school.
Misha was also able to fund our Donkey Library for one year, which means that the children at Chihira School have access to the wide variety of text and fiction books available from our roaming library. Our donkey carries books and an accompanying librarian, who visits 6 schools in the Northern Region of Ethiopia. For schools in rural areas of Ethiopia a library is an all too rare luxury and yet access to books is one of the most fundamental necessities for education. The donkey brings books to children in remote villages, giving them regular access to books on all subjects.
As well as spending time with the students and parents, to whom they donated some additional school resources, Misha and his family also got the opportunity to see the donkey library in action at Chihira. Once again thanks to Misha for supporting Chihira school!
12th Jun 2015
By Hannah Dillon and Tefera Teklu
Link Ethiopia’s partnership with World Challenge has cemented with another fruitful year that saw a flurry of construction and painting activities. Cheers to every group of young people who did their part in making sure that access to better education in Ethiopia is fair to all, especially to girls and pupils with disabilities. We hope that you will come back some day to see the changes that have come through your invaluable support.
And here is a summary of what has been done in the summer of 2014:
5th Jun 2015
Written by Cecilia
“Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with care.” Care for the earth, became an agent for change!
The main message of this year’s World Environment Day 2015 is improving people’s lives without increasing environmental degradation and without compromising the resource needs of future generations. This message fits in the broader conception according to which damaging and unreasonably exploiting our shared planet is not a necessary condition for human prosperity. Today is an occasion to increase people’s awareness about our shared planet’s condition and to encourage positive action around the world – from London to Gondar and beyond!Click to expand
The theme of this year is “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with care”. World Environment Day is an occasion to reflect on the reality we live in: many of the earth’s ecosystems have reached a critical point of depletion, with people consuming more than our planet can sustainably provide. The well-being of humanity – especially of future generations – is at risk. Today is a call for action: everyone can work together to safeguard the planet. Today, the world’s population should be encouraged to take an action and learn to respect the planet’s resource limits, because this is the only way to ensure our and future generation’s well-being, in a world where all “our dreams can be realised”.
Link Ethiopia actively participates in this global call for positive environmental action. We have a collection of school resources dedicated to learning about climate change and the environment. The topics are related to the investigation of the realities of climate change with a special focus on Ethiopia; the exploration of the impact of climate change on Ethiopia and what we can do to help stop it; and an activity to exchange learning and work about your school’s local environment with a partner school in Ethiopia. You can find the resources for these at the following links. And if you don’t already have a Link partner in Ethiopia, you can find out more here.
We also want to take this opportunity to highlight one of our projects which embodies the message of World Environment Day. Our solar panel-powered IT room in the Tokuma School in Southern Ethiopia achieved the twofold aim of improving the IT facilities at a remote, rural school as well as promoting a better understanding of sustainable development and making use of a sustainable source of energy! Solar panel electricity systems capture the sun’s energy using photovoltaic cells, which convert sunlight into electricity and can be used to run household appliances and lighting. For Tokuma Primary School, where there is no connection to the Ethiopian electricity grid it means a reliable source of electricity (albeit on a small-scale) and helps reduce the global carbon footprint! This project was in partnership with BFSS (The British Foreign School Society), and has fostered an ongoing relationship between Link Ethiopia and the community in Tokuma.
The school now has access to green, clean, sustainable energy and which lets their students (and teachers) learn with and use the laptop computers which we also donated as part of the project. The school was also connected to the internet for the first time – huge advantadge in today’s increasingly networked world. The solar panel project has met few important issues in one go: living sustainably, providing the school with laptops that will enhance children creativity and foster Tokuma children’s communication possibilities by connecting them with the rest of the world. If that’s not sustainable development, I don’t know what is!
10th Nov 2014
Written by Hannah Dillon
It was with great anticipation that we arrived in Gondar, our base for the coming months and a historical city located in Ethiopia’s Northern highlands. Apart from the extensive castle complex, the main things we had heard about before arriving were the excellent fish and chips at AG Hotel (from Matt at Link) and the entertaining Northern accent of the inhabitants (from the Bishoftu office staff). Suffice to say, Gondar, and the Amhara region in which it is situated, has much more to offer than this. Though I must say the fish and chips are good (we have had them twice already).
We spent our first Sunday pounding the streets, getting a feel for the place and chatting to a few local people. We were welcomed by our country director Gash Belayneh who offered us coffee (of course) and made us feel at home.Click to expand
My first impression of Gondar was that it was a busy and bustling small town with a friendly atmosphere. The locals are very used to Western tourists; which can have good and bad sides!
We were very glad to find that there are three other UK volunteers staying in our accommodation: two gap year students teaching at their partner school, Anghareb, and one architect from London who is working with Link and St. George’s School (more about this later).
On Monday it was straight to work on our Libraries and Literacy project. Having completed the research and teacher training in Bishoftu, it is now my task to gather baseline data before starting the teacher training in this region. So this saw me visiting the first three of twelve schools this week, where we were testing Grade 1 and 2 students on their reading skills. Once I have trained the teachers and supported them throughout the year, we will see what impact this training has had on reading levels.
This week we were also lucky enough to visit the newly-opened St. George’s School in Azezo near Gondar. The ambitious task of building a brand new school for orphans and vulnerable children was mounted by the Northwood African Education Foundation, based at Broomwood Hall School in London. Rory came here last year to see the building site, so to see it up and running and full of children learning was very exciting. Having spent some time in different government and private schools in Ethiopia already, I was blown away by what everyone had achieved in building and setting up this school.
Click here for more information about the project: http://web.linkethiopia.org/projects/partnerships/broomwoodafricaneducationfoundation/
It was a joy to see children enjoying quality education and the lower grades learning through play. I was encouraged to see that the school is using phonics to teach English and the teachers reported that the children love its interactive and kinaesthetic approach which means they are learning to read English rapidly. I hope our Libraries and Literacy project can have the same affect in other Ethiopian schools and in government schools in particular.
Ethiopia continues to surprise and delight me. The excitements on the horizon are the Great Ethiopian 10K Run on 23rd November for which we are travelling to Addis to take part with over 40,000 other runners (or walkers/joggers in my case!); a trip around the castle complex here in Gondar and perhaps a trip to another nearby site. With only six weeks to go until we come back for Christmas we have a lot to pack in!
18th Oct 2014
Written by Rory Dillon
I think Tokuma school is located in one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. As we chugged up the hill in our Toyota 4X4 (which our driver swore was less than ten years old but looked like it was older than me) from Ambo to Dadagelan, the horizon opened up in an undulating patchwork of green: 360 degrees of hills dotted with accacia trees and farmsteads as far as I could see. There was something about this view which was quintessentially Ethiopian; it is what I see in my mind’s eye when I think of Ethiopia, and simultaneously an image quite far from what I would have conjured before I visited the country myself.Click to expand
Our mission was to deliver laptops, printers and solar panels to Tokuma school. I use my computer everyday at work and at home and I rarely give it a second thought – what a pain in the bum it is when for one reason or another when you can’t access the worldwide web at the touch of a button. And, if you have visited a primary school in the UK recently you will see how technology is used to enhance lessons with videos and music, to allow students to be creative and to learn IT skills that are a requirement in later life.
Our aim was to open up this world to the village of Dadagelan by providing a solar panel powered IT room. With the support of a Girmaye Deye, who initiated the project, and our donors the British Foreign Schools Society, Link was able to help school to connect with the rest of the world through the internet. When I did a straw poll of one class of 26, none had used a computer before and only 12 had ever seen one.
After two years of hard work, we finally arrived at Tokuma to deliver the equipment, set it up and give some basic IT training. I spent two days at the school and it was great for me to see the project first hand instead of as a line on a spreadsheet. In my two days, I was able to pitch in and help assemble the new tables and chairs, to set up the new laptops and to help Haile showing the teachers and students the basics of how to use and care for the computers. I was also able to see the equipment being blessed by the parents and share doro wat (spicy chicken stew) and bhuna (coffee) with them. It will be interesting to stay in contact with Tokuma and see how the school and the children use the computers and whether they experience any problems maintaining the equipment.
The village school is full of engaged students and active parents and staff who have made a success of a school that would fail without their commitment. However, the school cannot draw on large contributions from parents to fund new equipment and infrastructure. It also finds that it is expensive to transport equipment from outside; the village is only accessible by a steep dirt road which is impassible in the rainy season (on the second day of our visit, Haile, with our vehicle nowhere to be seen and the skies threatening rain, was worried that we would have to stay the night in the school, sleeping under the new tables!). One of the major challenges of this project has been the logistics of getting to the site, with project visits costing in vehicle rental, staff subsistence and time. For all NGOs the hardest schools to reach are those most in need (so, if anyone has a spare 4×4 vehicle they would like to donate it would be much appreciated).
Ciao Ambo. Hopefully, I will be back again to see all of you before I return to the UK.