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Blog category: Classrooms and furniture

St. George’s School Phase 2 Opening Ceremony

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


Children singing the Ethiopian national anthem to start the ceremony

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“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

Posted in 2016, Classrooms and furniture, Projects, Uncategorized |

Andinet’s new classroom – a success story

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

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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.

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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.

Posted in 2016, Classrooms and furniture, Project expeditions, Projects, Uncategorized, Volunteering |

Chihira Elementary School welcomes Link Ethiopia’s youngest ever fundraiser!

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!

Posted in 2015, Classrooms and furniture, Fundraising, Libraries, books and literacy, Projects, Uncategorized |

World Challenge Projects Summer 2014

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:

De Ferres and Bavarian Int.: helped with the construction and decoration of a brand new toilet block for pupils which included access for wheelchair users. (Hora Arsedi)

From De Ferres and Bavarian International to Hora Arsedy School: helping with the construction and decoration of a brand new toilet block for pupils which included access for wheelchair users.

Cairo and UAS Dubai: helped with building a new toilet block by moving materials, as well as creating a beautiful garden. These have made a huge difference to the school. (Kera Hora)

From Cairo and UAS Dubai to Kera Hora Elementary: helped with building a new toilet block by moving materials, as well as creating a beautiful garden. These have made a huge difference to the school.

Henry Floyd: this group provided a much-needed concrete floor to several classrooms and brightened up the school with colourful painting. (Addis Alem)

From Henry Floyd to Addis Alem Elementary: this group provided a much-needed concrete floor to several classrooms and brightened up the school with colourful painting.

From Henry Floyd and John Colet: helped local labourers with the challenge of plastering a classroom and painting the inside ready for kindergarten children.

From Henry Floyd and John Colet: helped local labourers with the challenge of plastering a classroom and painting the inside ready for kindergarten children.

From Winchester College: this group gave a classroom a complete makeover, helping a local builder with cementing the floor and painting the walls. (Tseda)

From Winchester College to Tseda Elementary: this group gave a classroom a complete makeover, helping a local builder with cementing the floor and painting the walls.

 

 

Posted in 2015, Classrooms and furniture, Inclusive education, Projects, Uncategorized, Volunteering, Water and sanitation |

Sustainable development? World Environment Day 2015.

Written by Cecilia

“Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with care.” Care for the earth, became an agent for change!

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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!

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Growing tef – a sustainable ‘supercrop’! A high quality, high yield cereal, tef is the stable food crop in Ethiopia, and is primarily used to make injera.

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”.

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Working with computers for the first time! Almost none of the students at Tokuma had ever used a computer – most had never even seen one before.

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.

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Tokuma Primary School’s IT Centre solar panels in action!

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.

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The IT centre in action.

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!

Posted in 2015, Classrooms and furniture, Global Education, Inclusive education, Projects, Science and technology |

‘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: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/beautiful-single/id983283795

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

Our 2013/2014 Annual Report

Written by Isabel

We have just published our Annual Report for 2013/2014 which is available to read here (link). We would like to thank you all for your support over the past year, and hope you continue on the journey with us! Below is a summary of what we have achieved with your help, and highlight of some of the work we’ve done over the past year. All of this, and more, is explored in more detail inside the report.

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Why Education?

Our work is completely focussed on changing lives through education. Whilst the impacts of schooling are experienced on an individual level, its benefits are multiplied to include families, communities and wider society. Among the benefits are an increased earning potential, a reduction in the infant mortality rate and an increase in average GDP by 0.37%.

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Further than ensuring education becomes universal, we work with our link schools to provide a quality education. To ensure this, we have 5 main targets on which we focus:

• Infrastructure
• Teaching Quality
• Learning Resources
• Inclusion (of all social groups)
• Community Support

Below are some examples of the projects we have been involved in during the 2013-2014 period, each of which reflect one or more of our targets.

St. George’s School Project

‘Having worked with schools elsewhere in Ethiopia, I could see the huge contribution that St. Georges is making to improve education’
– Hannah, Teacher and LE Volunteer

Link Ethiopia supported the establishment of the St George’s School project, an initiative set up by the Northwood School Group here in the UK. St George’s, a not-for-profit non-government school, provides learning opportunities for a large intake of orphans and disadvantaged children from the local area.

One of the first classes at the new St. George’s School enjoys learning in this colourful and stimulating environment.

One of the first classes at the new St. George’s School enjoys learning in this colourful and stimulating environment.

By March 2014, the core buildings were completed and already in use. The aim is for the project to continue to expand in order to provide schooling until Grade 12. A very big thank you to Broomwood Hall and the Northwood School Group for your vision and direction so far!

Case study: Dudmegn School, Gondar

In February 2014, we installed a water station of 24 new taps at Dudmegn School. Before the installation, the school was managing with just two functional taps for a population of over 2000 students. The wider availability of water in the school has resulted in a higher attendance rate among students. We are hugely thankful for the purchases made from our Gift Ethiopia shop, shop.linkethiopia.org, and also for contributions made by the Mandala Trust, in addition to the supporters of our gift scheme.

Case study: Sincil School, Lincolnshire

At Sincil

The link between Sincil Sports College and Times Choice Academy in Bishoftu has been especially fruitful, and the partnership provided an opportunity for two students, Kyle and Ryan, to take part in the British Council funded ‘Connecting Classrooms’ exchange programme. This was a great opportunity for the boys to visit Times Choice Academy, which they really enjoyed! We are also pleased to say that Sincil were awarded funding for a second ‘Connecting Classrooms’ trip. Well done and thank you to both schools for maintaining a strong and successful partnership.

Sponsorship case study: Tejitu

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Tejitu, an 18 year old young woman from Bishoftu, has been sponsored by Link Ethiopia for approximately 5 years. Through our School Links, Volunteering and other project programmes, she has been able to gain confidence in her English language skills, engaged in global learning with students at her link school in the UK. She also helped to coordinate a ‘World Challenge’ trip at her own school, which helped her to further develop her global outlook and grow in confidence. We are extremely proud of her achievements and we look forward to seeing her fulfil her ambition of studying Biology at university.

Teaching Quality

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Investing in quality teachers is central to providing a quality education. During the 2013-2014 year, we were able to train grade 1 and grade 2 teachers in the phonics method. We have observed fantastic results so far, among them a 77% increase in the number of students using the library and a 65% increase in test scores for students of the trained teachers.

You can flip through the report below (click in the middle to view fullscreen). Enjoy!

Click here to see the full report and hear about the above achievements in detail, as well as the results of our work on global awareness, learning resources, and inclusion. Once again, we want to thank our link schools for your dedication, fundraising and ideas – none of the above would be possible without your contributions. We look forward to future engagements and successes!

Posted in 2013, 2014, 2015, Child sponsorship, Classrooms and furniture, Ethiopian news, Fundraising, Gender, Global Education, Inclusive education, Libraries, books and literacy, Other news, Project expeditions, Projects, School links, Science and technology, Sports, Tours, Uncategorized, Volunteering, Water and sanitation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Do we have a Right to Education?

Written by Laurence

It might seem like a simple question with an obvious answer; yes.

But across the world it’s not necessarily that simple. Children surely have the right to education. But do adults? What kind of education are children and young people entitled to? Should we have to pay for education, and if so, does education still exist as a fundamental right? Or is it now a commodity like gold, corn, property or oil?

UNESCO - Out of school children

Following the intro animation you can explore the situation in Ethiopia by going to the right-hand bar.

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Even if we all agree that we, or at least children, have a right to education, does that mean that all children will now have that education within their grasp? Will governments and institutions rise up and sever the chains holding back girls, rural children, poor children and others? Unfortunately, when you look around the world today, even with the Right to Education enshrined under Article 28 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 58 million children around the world are still out of school.

The UNESCO graphic, which you can access via the image above, explores some of the reasons why children in a variety of circumstances struggle to access education:

  • Lack of access in rural areas,
  • More than half of boys aged 7-14 work,
  • Many girls work or undertake chores at home,
  • Poverty keeps three-times as many poor children out of school than their richer counterparts.

There is such a variety of challenges facing children in a country like Ethiopia that sometimes you marvel even at the luckier children who do have access to education – the boys who work part-time to help support their family; the girls who spend so much time looking after young siblings, cooking and cleaning; the children who walk miles every day just to get to school.

Link Ethiopia began with the question ‘why education?’ What is so important about education, why does it matter, and what changes does it bring to the lives of young people? Perhaps this seems like another obvious question with a clear answer. But in order for governments, institutions and people to change – to see that 58 million children out of school across the world is a disgrace – we sometimes have to bluntly show why education is so vital.

7MajorImpacts-01_SMALL The impacts of education on an individual’s – and a country’s – future can be considerable. © Link Ethiopia

The above graphic attempts to do that. Things are always more complex than graphics, charts and reports can show. And many of the benefits of education are intangible and can’t easily be mapped, recorded, or given a financial value. But here are some basic facts that highlight just how important education is – for health, wealth, happiness and much more besides. And I don’t think anyone can argue with that.

Posted in 2015, Child sponsorship, Classrooms and furniture, Fundraising, Gender, Global Education, Inclusive education, Libraries, books and literacy, Other news, Project expeditions, Projects, School links, Science and technology, Sports, Tours, Uncategorized, Volunteering, Water and sanitation |

Touching Down in Gondar

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.

Rory strolling around Gondar town in the blazing heat.

Rory strolling around Gondar town in the blazing heat.

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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!

The central Piassa square in Gondar. You can see Italian-built art deco style buildings (in the process of being renovated).

The central Piassa square in Gondar. You can see Italian-built art deco style buildings (in the process of being renovated).

Another shot of Piassa and the renovations to the buildings including the central Post Office.

Another shot of Piassa and the renovations to the buildings including the central Post Office.

The view from our bedroom window in the Link Ethiopia accommodation in Gondar. Not too shabby!

The view from our bedroom window in the Link Ethiopia accommodation in Gondar. Not too shabby!

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).

A typically scenic backdrop and not-so-scenic foreground!

A typically scenic backdrop and not-so-scenic foreground!

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.

Grade 1 and 2 students taking our reading test and posing for the camera at Arbatu Ensesa school on the outskirts of Gondar.

Grade 1 and 2 students taking our reading test and posing for the camera at Arbatu Ensesa school on the outskirts of Gondar.

A mural of Gondar castle at Arbatu Ensesa School. This mud and wood structure with corrugated iron roof is a typical classroom design at government schools that I have seen in the North and the South. Link Ethiopia funded the metal shutters and doors to improve security and added cement flooring replacing mud and dust (which had made some children ill).

A mural of Gondar castle at Arbatu Ensesa School. This mud and wood structure with corrugated iron roof is a typical classroom design at government schools that I have seen in the North and the South. Link Ethiopia funded the metal shutters and doors to improve security and added cement flooring replacing mud and dust (which had made some children ill).

Colourful murals showing Ethiopia’s unique regions and wildlife (photographed at Arbatu Ensesa School).

Colourful murals showing Ethiopia’s unique regions and wildlife (photographed at Arbatu Ensesa School).

Kindergarten students chanting the English alphabet for their visitors at Arbatu Ensesa. Many more schools now have a KG class but funding is limited and most parents cannot afford to pay.

Kindergarten students chanting the English alphabet for their visitors at Arbatu Ensesa. Many more schools now have a KG class but funding is limited and most parents cannot afford to pay.

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.

One of the first classes at the new St. George’s School enjoys learning in this colourful and stimulating environment.

One of the first classes at the new St. George’s School enjoys learning in this colourful and stimulating environment.

The newly-built St. George’s School courtyard and classrooms.

The newly-built St. George’s School courtyard and classrooms.

School uniforms hanging out to dry at St. George’s. The school provides uniforms and materials as priority is given to orphans and children from poor families.

School uniforms hanging out to dry at St. George’s. The school provides uniforms and materials as priority is given to orphans and children from poor families.

Sheltered area showing the tranquil rural setting of St. George’s.

Sheltered area showing the tranquil rural setting of St. George’s.

Beautiful reading area at St. George’s.

Beautiful reading area at St. George’s.

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!

Posted in Classrooms and furniture, Uncategorized |

Two days in Tokuma

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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Ciao Ambo. Hopefully, I will be back again to see all of you before I return to the UK.

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Posted in 2014, By project type, By topic, By year, Classrooms and furniture, Projects, Science and technology |