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Blog category: 2014

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 , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dunky’s Library Mission: Mike’s First Impression (Part Two)

Written by Mike

(Read Part One Here)

In the towns and cities, building a library is definitely feasible. However, Link works with schools all over the country, some that can’t even be reached without a 4×4 because they’re so rural. Getting building materials to these schools can prove too tricky, and even getting books to reach them can be difficult. I’ve witnessed that kids from the rural areas tend to struggle more with basic English, especially with reading and writing things that they might have never come across before. So what can we do to try and reach as many kids as possible, to open their minds to the wonder of fiction and creativity?

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Well, that’s where “Dunky” comes in. This project was first put into place by the Gondar office a few years ago, and now the crew down here in Bishoftu have managed to set up their very own “donkey library.” What on this fruitful earth is a “donkey library”, I hear you splutter with joy and excitement! Well, the donkey library is a project that’s been set up to try and get books to schools in the rural areas, and to get kids reading from an early age. We’ve managed to secure a donkey, called Duncan, who will be travelling around with a trained librarian to deliver crates and paniers and boxes of books to the schools that can’t be so easily reached. This week saw “Dunky” Ferguson’s debut mission, which looks like it was fun (for the people at least). I can’t talk for Dunky, partly because I haven’t met him yet and partly because he’s not sporting the happiest of faces in these pictures. But I’m sure he’ll come to realise that what he’s doing is helping towards a great cause, and with little sacrifice comes great reward, so stick on in there donkey, my son!

Over the next year, Dunky, and possibly some new friends, will be travelling and delivering books for all ages to pupils and schools in the rural areas of the country, with the aim being to reach as many kids as possible starting with those in places such as Denkaka and Ude. By promoting reading to the children in these schools, we hope to show the benefits of reading to those who can’t quite see it yet. Who knows, maybe in a couple of years’ time they’ll be picking up a book without questioning it not just to study, but to learn from and enjoy!

I think I’ve rambled enough. But before I go, I do just want to point out that we were given some huge golden Crimbo tinsel and some hats to decorate the office with just before Christmas, by a chap working for Pelican Post. They’re a company who’s been donating books to libraries and classes here, one of which we’re teaching with at the minute. Anyway, the point is that I got all excited to show my fellow volunteer our Crimbo decorations when she got home, but I noticed that the tinsel had been pilfered. “Which one of them took that?” we pondered to ourselves cluelessly before Dawit sent me these pictures:

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Classic Dunky! Neigh! Ee-aw! Whatever the sound is! Peace out!

 

 

Posted in 2014, 2015, Libraries, books and literacy, Projects, Uncategorized, Volunteering | Tagged ,

For the love of reading: Mike’s First Impressions (Part One)

Written by Mike

(Read Part Two Here)

So, they’ve asked me to write a blog. I’ve got plenty of adventures stored up on paper so maybe some sort of anthology is in order! Here are my experiences so far with Link Ethiopia, the wonderful charity with whom I’m volunteering in Bishoftu. I’ll start by telling you about the schools and libraries.

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One reason why it’s important for kids to read is so that they can balance out the “facts” and politics they’re taught with creative thinking. In the UK, reading stories is something which happens from the minute you’re born. Yet here, that’s not really the case. Sure, a few of them know a traditional Ethiopian tale or two and a couple have read the occasional novel here and there, but when I ask what ‘what have you read?’, the majority reply with things like “textbooks”, “history” and “non-fiction.” Where’s the fun in that? Where’s the creativity?

It’s clear that these kids have got imaginations – how could they not, in a place like this? They just need to let those imaginations run free, and develop a new outlook which helps them realise that being creative and telling stories is not a waste of time. That’s what we’re working on together. During the first week of class, we spent a lesson-and-a-half creating our own characters and character backgrounds before a few of the girls asked if we could change the topic. It seems that the girls lack the drive for creativity even more so than the boys, who thankfully get stuck in with this kind of thing.

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So over the last few lessons we’ve been doing something called “What’s Next?” in which I give them the introduction to a story and they’ve got to write down what happens next, with illustrations of course. A lot of the kids have been finding inspiration from their favourite television and movies from America, which definitely helps when they come to write a story. We have got some cracking stuff, although we’ve only heard from the boys so far – I’m pretty sure one group of girls has written nothing at all because they don’t see the point. They did draw a funky picture of me though, so thanks for that!

People need to read stories, especially kids, so they can learn about the world around them in a different way. “Oh, but we’ve got Geography textbooks galore!” Yeah, that’s great – we can read about how many square kilometres the rainforest takes up or the population of China – but we’re not learning about characters! About people! How do we share our life experiences and relate to others? By telling stories. Therefore, getting these kids to pick up a story and actually want to read it will be beneficial.

If you walk around a school in England, one of the most dominant places you’ll find will be the library. A room stacked wall to wall, floor to ceiling, with stories! Now, I’m not saying that libraries are always fun, because let’s face it, they’re not. While I was at school, I don’t think I ever once willingly chose a book from the library, but that’s because the ideas we are fed about libraries are so dull – too much paper, too many written words and not enough spoken. Risk opening your mouth in a library and you’ll get a disgruntled librarian telling you to be quiet! Who wants to spend their time there? No-one that I can think of. But that’s because we’re so used to hearing stories and reading books anyway, that we take the place for granted. In contrast, the kids here don’t have libraries in their schools. They don’t have anywhere to choose a fictional piece of fun and sit down with it!

Okay, well some of them do. We’re getting there. Slowly, but surely. That’s what Link have been working on with their recent Libraries & Literacy project. The project involves going round the schools, building a library if there’s not a free room, donating books, and setting up a library-level reward scheme.

For instance, I had the honour of rolling with the library crew (more exciting than it sounds) last week while they checked in on each school’s library, ticking off a check-list with points such as “working librarian at all times”, “wall displays”, “books put in some kind of order”, etc. Once a library can tick off everything on that check-list is promoted from Bronze to Silver, and then to Gold, but no Platinum, unfortunately. I wonder what a Platinum status library could look like… maybe you’d walk in and instantly absorb all the information without having to flick through anything…

So, what’s the benefit of getting libraries set up in these schools? Well, not only does it give kids a place to go and pick out a book to explore, but it’s also a place where kids can go to study and carry on learning outside of class. “Oh, great, yet more studying!” I hear you thinking. Well here’s the thing: kids in England, they don’t really want to be in school, whereas kids do. My afternoon class was originally scheduled for one hour, but the kids asked for longer so we’re now on one-and-a-half. These kids are keen to learn! What did we all get up to on the weekend? Studying. What are you going to get up to now that we’ve finished class for the day? Studying. What will you get up to when you’re home tonight? Studying. They study too much if I’m honest with you, but it’s good to see them so keen to learn new things.

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Posted in 2014, 2015, Libraries, books and literacy, Projects, Uncategorized, Volunteering | Tagged

Completion of the Atse Bekafa Library Building Project

Written by Isabel

Here is a first look at the newly completed library in Atse Bekafa! With construction having started in 2014, a few changes are still underway which will see the addition of a children’s corner, as well as a display of the children’s work. It is already proving popular; at the moment the library is lending out 10-15 books each week, to as many students. Teachers are also making great use of it, with around 15 books being taken out weekly.

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We would like to thank our link schools for providing steady support throughout the process. In April 2012, St Stephen’s C of E donated £1,296.75, of which we invested £250 into books, with the remaining £1,046 used to help complete the project. A second link school, Laneshaw Bridge, donated an initial £340 in December 2011. Since then, this link school has been keenly involved and have donated on a further 3 occasions, including: towards library furniture in 2012, and investing in library books between 2012 and 2013.

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Our hope is that this library can become a model for future and surrounding projects, so we are putting in a lot of effort to make sure it achieves a Gold Library Award in the Library and Literacy Project.

Once again, a huge thank you to our two link schools who made this all possible!

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Posted in 2014, Libraries, books and literacy, School links, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

School Links Southern Ethiopia Conferences and British Council Training

Written by Tsegaye Alemneh, School Links Manager, Bishoftu.

Link Ethiopia’s annual School Links conference and training was held in Bishoftu and Adama town just before Ethiopian Christmas (Gena). Each conference took two full days. 39 Headteachers and Link coordinators from different schools participated.

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The aim of these conferences was to create an opportunity for the schools to share experiences, best practice and understanding, with a particular focus this year on teachers who had hosted their partner school and completed a successful visit to their partner school in UK.

Two teachers, Ato (Mr) Gezahegn Gebrekidan from Beza School and Ato Berhanu Seboka from Times Choice Academy, discussed in detail how well they have been welcomed and hosted by their partner schools in the UK, and what teaching and learning experience they observed. These teachers received great appreciation from the participants for their detailed and well organized presentations.

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The Link coordinator of Beza School, Roman Alemayehu, displayed and gave information about the pen-pal letters and the Shared Learning Activities their school has been exchanging with their partner school, Brackenbury Primary. She also mentioned how their partnership has strengthened and reached the second year of exchange visits.

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With the aim of developing the participants’ understanding of global citizenship and developing their partnership relationship, Link Ethiopia delivered two training courses ‘Deeper understanding of global citizenship’ and ‘Our partnership journey’, in collaboration with British Council. The aim of this training was to provide attendees with the skills to::

  • Explore different perspectives and question their own views on what means to be a global citizen
  • Engage with ideas of interdependence at different scales and overtime
  • Think about the implications for young people and their learning
  • Realise their potential and result in lasting impact,

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The training provided ideas to kick-start thinking about a project that schools can take part in with their partner school. This enables the schools in question to select a common theme to develop into a project or activity that can be used with an international partner.

Some of the feedbacks collected from the attendees at the Conference and training:

The training really helps us to maintain a sustainable partnership with our partner schools. In addition to this, I also developed several leadership skills while holding the conference. We are looking forward to welcoming new partner schools from the UK and establishing a strong mutual relationship with them.
Dejene Delelegn, Headteacher of Nafyad No. 1 Elementary School.

Many attendees attested to the fact that the training was very hands on, with one teacher commenting that:

The training we are provided was so motivating and practical, and we are happy for this kind of training to be given twice a year, including all schools open to taking part.

I want to thank all the teachers, Headteachers and other staff involved, and to the British Council staff in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for making this possible.

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Posted in 2014, Global Education, School links |

Brackenbury Christmas Fair

Written by David Fricker from Brackenbury School

School fairs are an excellent opportunity to raise the profile of global links and keep the school community fully informed. At Brackenbury Primary School in London, the school’s Link Ethiopia Club holds a stall to promote the school’s link with Besebarok School in Ethiopia. Each year, the school has fairs for Christmas, Easter, Eid al-Adha and during the summer too! Every fair provides a great opportunity to also raise funds for Link Ethiopia’s fantastic work. Over the past two years, Brackenbury has raised sufficient money to enable Besebarok to participate in Link Ethiopia’s exciting Literacy & Libraries project.

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During Brackenbury’s recent Christmas fair, the Link Ethiopia club sold Link Ethiopia merchandise (pens, badges and wristbands) and flags. Also, cakes and biscuits (decorated with the Ethiopian flag) were available along with greetings cards, notepads and calendars made by the club members, with Ethiopian images such as the traditional coffee pot. The Link Ethiopia club members enjoy selling the products whilst also being available to answer questions from their peers and the school community. The Link Ethiopia stall is now an established feature of school fairs and an effective way of maintaining the profile of the partnership between Brackenbury and Besebarok.

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Don’t forget, Link Ethiopia has a range of amazing merchandise: http://shop.linkethiopia.org/

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Posted in 2014, Fundraising, Libraries, books and literacy, Other news, School links | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Gondar in a Day

Written by Rory & Hannah

It is a time-worn cliché that you never visit the famous sights of the place where you live, focussing instead on the day-to-day necessities of life and saving the money to visit famous sights in far-flung places. Of course we are in Ethiopia so this does not quite apply, but it did take us a few weeks to get around to seeing some of what Gondar has to offer to tourists. Inspired by previous volunteer Ben’s excellent blog, Addis in a Day, which we used to navigate Addis Ababa last month, we decided to compile some up-to-date information on Gondar for visitors and volunteers (the prices have increased considerably since the publication of the latest Lonely Planet).

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Running at the Stadium
We started our day at an ungodly hour, tentatively stepping out of the Link Ethiopia compound in our running gear. The day was breaking and there was a slight chill in the air: the perfect time of day for a jog. Unfortunately, half of Gondar was also out on the streets going about their business; they were without exception heartily amused by the sight of four farenjis hurtling down the hill towards the stadium. We followed the Tarmac road as it snakes down around 1.5km, dodging sheep and chasms in the pavement as we went. Needless to say to those who know me, we did not run all the way and walked the last part into the football stadium opposite Fasiledes Secondary School and next to King Fasiledes bath house (more on him later).

The track is dirt but it is nice and flat and the surroundings are quiet and calm (at least not on a match day). We were joined by other running clubs and individuals putting us to shame but it did not dissuade us from our training for the Great Ethiopian Run next Sunday.

*Fundraising plug*… Please sponsor our team here.

Breakfast at New Day Café
This seemingly unremarkable café can be found by walking up past the main entrance to the Quara Hotel from Piassa, passing by the traditional nightclubs and the petrol station on your left and then when you see the Mega Book Store on your right, you should find it on your left. New Day was close to the previous Link office and therefore a favourite haunt of many a volunteer and we have discovered why. The makiato is top-notch and we also filled up on the typical Ethiopian breakfast foods, full (a spicy bean stew served with fresh bread) and fetira be mar (a thick pancake served with honey). Delicious!

King Fasiledes castle – the most well-preserved on the site

King Fasiledes castle – the most well-preserved on the site

Tour of the Royal Enclosure
Gondar’s town centre is dominated by the fortified walls of the castle complex (also called the Royal Enclosure). The walls serve to conceal the six castles built by a succession of kings in the seventeenth century who made Gondar their capital. Entry for tourists costs 200 Birr per person (just over £6 at the time of writing) and I would recommend a guide for the day, which will set you back 400 Birr, and can be arranged within the castle walls and will stay with you to guide you around all the day’s sights. We were impressed by the interior of Fasiledes castle (the only castle fully in tact), the display of traditional lime mortar being used to renovate Mentawab’s castle and by the tales of royal folly retold by our guide. If you were on a tight budget, you could forgo the guide, but the Lonely Planet (other guidebooks are available) would be indispensable because no information boards are provided.

A view of some of the castles

A view of some of the castles

Traditional lunch at Camelot House
Guided by our stomachs, we proceeded to Camelot House, which can be found in the old Italian Art Deco cinema on the left-hand side as you head back to Piassa from the castles. The interior is dark and traditionally Ethiopian with small tables and also grass strewn on the floor. Unanimously we decided to eat shiro, a stew containing chickpea flour and berbere, but the controversy came when deciding between tegabino (thick) shiro and feses (runnier) shiro (better than it sounds). So we ordered both and very tasty it was too.

Fasiledes bath and bath-house

Fasiledes bath and bath-house

King Fasiledes Bath
Next we decided to stroll back down the hill to our next sight. You can take a bajaj (price negotiable) but if you have eaten two types of shiro you might appreciate the walk (which was around 2km). The bath and its bath-house offer calm surroundings (we were the only tourists) and the tree roots growing over the sides of the bath are an incredible sight. I should mention that entry is included in the price of entry to the royal enclosure.

Tree roots growing over the sides of the bath, searching for water

Tree roots growing over the sides of the bath, searching for water

At Epiphany the bath comes alive as it is filled by river water (using an ingenious damming and pipe work system) and it becomes the site of a mass public ceremony. We are looking forward to witnessing this in January when we return from the UK (it is sure to warrant another blog post).

The holy trinity above the altar of the church

The holy trinity above the altar of the church

Debre Birhan Selassie Church
As we left the bath-house, a bajaj was ready and waiting to take us up to the church on the other side of town. We negotiated 40 birr for the four of us but I am sure you could get it cheaper with some hard haggling. It was a scenic drive around the hills of Gondar to the Debre Birhan Selassie (Trinity and Mountain of Light) church. Entry to the church costs 100 birr, which you pay at the kiosk opposite, and the beautiful wall paintings inside certainly make it worth this. Our group was momentarily separated as men and women are required to enter by different doors and all are asked to remove their shoes. Our guide was still with us and this was invaluable because he was able to tell us the story of the church and its paintings.

The wall and ceiling of Selassie Church

The wall and ceiling of Selassie Church

The day was drawing to a close and we were feeling tired but satisfied as we made our way down the hill back in to town. The options for dinner are too numerous to list but we settled on Coffee House for its proximity to our accommodation (just near Atse Bekafa School) and for its excellent and piping hot chips (we had had enough shiro for one day!).

Posted in 2014, Ethiopian culture, Ethiopian news, Fundraising, Other news, Uncategorized, Volunteering |

Rushmere Hall Primary School visit partners Times Choice Academy

Written by Tsegaye Alemneh

Michelle and Hannah are teachers from Rushmere Hall Primary School. They had the opportunity to visit their partner school, Times Choice Academy, for the second time last week.

On their first day visiting their Link Partners, the Link Club students welcomed them by playing different children’s games and singing songs. They took part in the coffee ceremony and were served with traditional Ethiopian coffee.

Welcome ceremony

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One of their main focuses was working with the Link Club students to create a World War One poppy art project. This was to commemorate the one hundred year anniversary of First World War, and to remember the fallen.

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The Link Club students created 300 poppies using recycled plastic bottles; cutting them to make the flower and painting them red. Plastic was then cut into circles and painted black and attached to the middle of the red plastic flowers. Finally these poppies were attached to the garden fence.

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Besides remembering the military fatalities, the poppies have given beauty for the garden, and gave the Ethiopian students the opportunity to work with new tools, such as glue guns, and learn new skills.

Michelle & Hannah also went into a range of classes across the school and taught the students Football Remembers, using the 1914 Educational pack produced in partnership with the FA Premier League.

It wasn’t all work! The Rushmere Hall Primary teachers were afforded the opportunity of observing the preparation of the Ethiopian staple bread called ‘Injera’. It is made with teff flour. They were also given an opportunity to make Injera by themselves which was a unique experience for them.

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During their final day, they had a discussion with the new Headteacher Ato Zenebe, the School Manager Ato Birhanu and other staff about future collaborative projects.

One of their future projects is the visit of two staff members and two Link Club students from TCA to Rushmere Hall Primary School at the end of January 2015.

The British Council ‘Connecting Classrooms’ grant is expected to cover the visit expenses of the two staff members, excluding accommodation and meal costs, which is going to be accommodated by the UK teachers. What is interesting is that both partner schools have sponsored one Link Club student from TCA to visit Rushmere Hall Primary School along with the two staff members.

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Both schools have discussed and selected a topic for an exchange piece of work; ‘Our School Trips’. This project includes taking photos of different students’ visits in surrounding areas to send to their partner schools to show them what they have experienced.

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To top off a fantastic visit, Rushmere Hall also donated 3 digital hand-held video cameras (that can take still photos as well as video) and 3 digital cameras to TCA. An aim for the TCA students with these cameras is to learn about photography and send different photos and videos to the UK. In addition, TCA has received a 42 inch plasma screen for teaching and learning. This is a new and exciting way for staff to teach and students to learn.

Hannah had this to say about the visit:

“Our second visit exceeded all expectation, it has been a truly inspirational week. Both of us were overwhelmed and reminded of the joy of learning that the children have and the ambition of the teachers and children too. During the week, all the teachers at Times Choice were incredibly flexible and allowed us to teach ‘our’ way. Although we were a little nervous about how well the children would relate to the football remembers project, there was no need to be and we left feeling confident that teachers and children had developed their knowledge on English culture and language.

Times Choice Academy and Rushmere Hall Primary School have lots of plans for the future. These include: a school visit project, festivals project and an investigation into interactive Literacy and Numeracy CDs. The director has even asked for our help in redesigning their English curriculum.”

Posted in 2014, School links, Science and technology |

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 |

Harvest 2014 at Tannery Drift

Written by Laurence

Tannery Drift Primary School decided to link their Harvest Festival enrichment activities and learning to their School Link with Selam Elementary in Enfraz, Northern Ethiopia.

Harvest time is a fantastic opportunity to link food and other development challenges in Ethiopia to those faced by communities in the UK (e.g. people relying on food banks).

It’s important young people in the UK and across the world learn that the problems we face are often universal challenges and hardships, even if they are different in scale to those dealt with by families in Ethiopia. ‘Harvest time’ here in the UK has many comparisons with similar traditions across the world, and so is a fantastic opportunity to engage your students in this global dimension that is sometimes missed. It can also help reduce the sense of ‘otherness’ that many people in the UK associate with poverty in Africa and elsewhere in the ‘developing world’.

Our ‘Food’ learning resources & scheme of work are a really simple and interesting way to bridge your Harvest Festival enrichment activities with your Link or any global learning you are looking to do as a school.

Harvest
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“It was the responsibility of the Badger class to investigate Harvest Traditions and Celebrations to lead our Harvest Festival this year.

We discovered how the harvest was collected in past years and the meaning behind Corn Dollies and “The Lord of the Harvest”. The writings we produced will be read out to parents at the schools’ harvest festival.

Two groups of children made and shaped bread dough into the traditional harvest wheat sheaf whilst the third group made and baked harvest mice to compliment the display.

We started to assemble the harvest display, incorporating ideas and work influenced by our School Link with Selam Elementary. We hoped to sell as much produce and flower seeds as possible, and decided to donate this money to Link Ethiopia’s work.

We raised over £150!

Produce that was not sold was donated to Richard Cox Elderly Care Home and Royston Food Bank, local organisations supporting people in our area, much as Link Ethiopia does in Enfraz, Gondar & beyond.”

Posted in 2014, Fundraising, School links |