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Blog category: 2016
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.
4th Apr 2016
Written by Rory
It’s 2pm in the heat of the Gondar afternoon and I’m following the happiest donkey in Ethiopia. Happy because he’s spreading the joy of reading in for Ethiopian students without libraries … and because carrying his load of books, rather than bags of cement or teff (a grain used to make injera, Ethiopia’s stable bread) that are the usual fair of his fellows, is a cushy number.
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I am at Bahire Ginb school near Maksegnit, a small village between Gondar and Bahir Dar, to see one of our donkey libraries. Link Ethiopia has three donkey libraries – two in Gondar and one in Bishoftu. Each donkey visits five rural schools who do not have a library, one a day over a week. Via our donkeys, children can access books which are usually scarce at home and at school; they are able to read reference and textbooks to support their lessons but also to read fiction in Amharic and Oromo. These free reading sessions, as well as group stories, can be a gateway for students into the world opened by reading – reading for pleasure, reading for reading’s sake.
Donkey libraries are a great service for rural schools without libraries. Teachers and students are always excited when the donkey library arrives and more and more schools request to be included. There are thousands of students who do not have access to books beyond their school textbook. For that reason, Link is seeking to increase the number of donkey libraries from 3 to 4, which would allow us to serve an additional 1000 students in rural schools. Click here if you’d like to help and support us to bring the Donkey and his books to so many more children.
At Bahire Gunb, a group of students are sitting in a circle around Belete, our donkey librarian. He is reading from a book of Ethiopian folktales and the class follow along from their own copies. Stage left, our mobile library sits in the shade of a tree job done for another day.