Tag Archives: education

Adventures with a Donkey in Ethiopia

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.


Posted in 2016, Fundraising, Libraries, books and literacy, Projects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Child Sponsorship Clubs

Link Ethiopia’s Child Sponsorship Programme has different aspects and aims. From providing students with schools uniforms and school learning resources to building libraries and toilet facilities in schools, the programme aims to provide concrete support to young Ethiopians.


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A relatively recent aspect of the Child Sponsorship Programme are the Sponsorship Clubs. These clubs aim to give sponsored children additional support and contact with our staff. It takes place in sponsored schools and all the members of the club will meet regularly. The principal aims of the Sponsorship Clubs are:

1- Providing kids with a safe space where they can support and get to know one another.
2- Creating the environment to run training and tutorial support sessions.
3- Providing extra-school support to students facing difficulties – with our staff or school teachers.

The goal of the Sponsorship Clubs is the one of providing sponsored kids with the tools and the knowledge to lead healthy and successful lives. Furthermore, Link Ethiopia, through these Clubs, is able to provide kids with tailored support, such as specific training and counselling. Students are also encouraged to take lead in discussions, share their ideas and are encouraged to become more active community members and global citizens.

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We recently ran life-skills and heath & hygiene training club sessions with nearly 60 sponsored students in the Gondar area. Students from schools in Gondar, Azezo and Maksegnit all took part in sessions run by Link Ethiopia staff and professionals from other NGOs. Health and hygiene products were also shared out amongst participants and our team received very positive feedback from participants. These clubs continue throughout the year and we look forward to organising the next successful training events!

Posted in 2015, Child sponsorship, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Brackenbury to Beza

Written by David Fricker, Brackenbury Primary School Link Coordinator

Brackenbury to Beza by Link Ethiopia on Exposure

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

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%.


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


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


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 , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Gondar university graduate creates outdoor reading space

by Hannah Dillon

What strikes Ethiopians most when they visit London? The answer is not what you might expect. In fact, many are surprised to see that everyone is reading. On the tube, in the park, in cafés… as Londoners we take this fact for granted. Many educated Ethiopians are concerned about the lack of reading culture in the country. However, there are only few who are actively doing something about it.


On Friday, we had the privilege of meeting Ephrem, a graduate of Gondar University who has dedicated his time and his own money to creating an outdoor library for the people of Gondar.

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With the support of friends and acquaintances – among them a lawyer and a newspaper editor – Ephrem has set up Nisir (eagle in Amharic), an organisation for social change. He has acquired the use of a small park in central Gondar for his library, and thanks to the canopy of trees it is a shady area in which benches are provided for reading. There are also ladies selling coffee and there are plans to provide Ethiopian food and even WiFi to encourage more people to visit.

The organisation is the talk of the town because not only have they found a practical solution to a social problem, they are also funding the venture from their own pockets and from local benefactors. Link Ethiopia was asked to donate English language books for the collection, which we did so gladly.

The donation was of 30 works of English and American literature, 10 non-fiction books and 15 popular science magazines. We are hoping to continue to support this venture with donations and to find different ways of working together in the future.

As for Ephrem, he has big ambitions for the project. He plans to expand it in the near future, adding sites close to the University and in nearby Azezo. In turn, this would mean creating jobs for new librarians and widening access to books across the town. It will be exciting to witness the expansion and the ways in which it will create more spaces for casual reading.

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Posted in 2015, Ethiopian culture, Inclusive education, Libraries, books and literacy, Projects | Tagged , , , ,

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.


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 , , , , , , , , ,

A word from Habtamu…

Written by Habtamu Dereje

One of our Ethiopian staff members, Habtamu – Sponsorship Manager in Bishoftu – wanted to highlight the case of one of the sponsored children whose education is supported by the Link Ethiopia Sponsorship Scheme.

Case study: Tejitu


“Tejitu is a 17 year-old Ethiopian who was born and still resides in Bishoftu. She is unsure of her family background; she does not know her parents and currently resides with her second guardian. While she does not know her history with any certainty, she has theorized that her father left her with her mother and her mother subsequently either gave her to her first guardian or abandoned her.

At the age of seven, after completing grade 1 at Keta School, she joined her current guardian. She has acknowledged that, at this stage in her schooling, she was unsuccessful in her schooling, and was consistently seeing her friends gain awards for their rankings at school. This gave her a sense of ambition to perform well at school, and from grades 2-6 she obtained third rank awards, in grade 7 received second rank and in grades 8 and 9 received first rank. Tejitu says that her current guardian has sons and daughters of her own, but she is always treated as a daughter in her own right.”

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A Sponsorship History: Link Ethiopia has been sponsoring Tejitu for approximately four years, providing resources both directly to her and to her school. Throughout her experiences with this organisation, one highlight has been her participating in a World Challenge activity. Tejitu helped to organise activities for the group of students who travelled to Ethiopia with this organisation. In coordinating and delivering these activities, she was able to interact with the English students who were studying at the UK school in Dubai, and by extension improve her confidence and increase her understanding of global culture.

Benefits of Link Ethiopia sponsorship:
Tejitu has benefitted from a number of Link Ethiopia’s schemes throughout the time she has received sponsorship:

Project scheme: Link Ethiopia has built and established a library at Tejitu’s school, and she states that she visits it often to read a number of books that this organisation has supplied.

School Links scheme: Through establishing a School Links club at her school, Tejitu has enjoyed exchanging letters with pen pals at her linked school in the UK. She has said that this increased her knowledge of other cultures and gave her opportunities to practise her written English skills. She has also acknowledged that this has built her vocabulary and communication skills, and has subsequently improved her results in her school subjects. She also believes that it has allowed her increased confidence in interacting with English speakers.

Sponsorship scheme: Tejitu has received resources such as a school uniform, casual clothes and school supplies from Link Ethiopia. These have helped her to attend class regularly, with increased confidence and understanding.

Volunteer scheme: Link Ethiopia has placed two native English-speaking volunteers at Keta School, offering a spoken English class and a conversation class. Tejitu believes that this has broadened her understanding of the world outside and built her confidence with speaking the English language.

Future ambitions: Tejitu is hoping for a good result with her grade 10 national examination, and to continue at a preparatory school next year. Her further goals include attending university to study biology, with a specific interest in researching botany.

Posted in 2014, Child sponsorship, Inclusive education | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Weekly Schools Update: The International School Award

The International School Award

Your school linking activities already put you in a great position

The British Council support schools engaged in Global Learning in a variety of ways – from their Connecting Classrooms grant, to their Professional Development courses.

The International School Award, a three-level accreditation, is designed with a framework intended to “[help] you to record and evaluate international work and embed it into the curriculum and whole school ethos“.

Achieving the award has numerous benefits – it gives celebration and context to the international school work that you and your class are engaged in, and in the words of one of our former Link Coordinators:

Perhaps the most important aspect of the ISA is the context it gives to what might be called the celebration of diversity… EAL and ethnic diversity have become positive aspects of school life rather than issues that need to be dealt with” (Fiona Swanson, former LC at Impington Village College).

By providing you with a framework for your linking activities, it gives your school the incentive and opportunity to involve the wider school and foster a ‘whole school’ ethos. The benefits are multitude – you can read more about them here.

The school linking activities that all of you are engaged in with your partner schools in Ethiopia – from your exchange topic work, to Ethiopia Day events, exchange visits, letter writing, and more – are brilliant foundations for applying for the International School Award.

We have a growing number of schools who have received the Full International School Award tier level across both our Primary and Secondary schools. We hope that by bringing together all our schools thinking of, or in the process of, applying for the Foundation or Intermediate award levels, together with those schools who have successfully reached the Full ISA level, it would improve everyone’s experience of applying for the award, and allow those fully accredited schools time to reflect on their achievements (perhaps in time for re-accreditation).

If any schools are interested in applying for the award – or if you already are doing so – please get in touch, so we can support you during the application process, and so we can put you in touch with Link Coordinators from those schools who have achieved the full award!

Thanks for reading! Until next week – Ciao!

International school linking activities – like letter writing – are an ideal first step in applying for the award!


The award is a three-stage framework – Foundation, Intermediate and Full. Each has a number of requirements and expectations for applicants:


Schools will need to have:

  • recieved approval to proceed from your headteacher and chair of governors
  • conducted an audit of international activity
  • appointed an international co-ordinator
  • written an international policy
  • started to look for, and be preparing to work with, international partner schools
  • completed at least one activity with an international focus
  • completed at least one activity with another school, either in your home country or a different country
  • completed a set of evaluation forms for one activity based on feedback from parent, young people, educators and school visitors.


Schools will need to have achieved the above criteria, and will have :

  • set up an active working relationship with at least one international partner school
  • completed at least three activities. At least two of the three activities should be completed with schools, or organisations that support school education, in other countries. These two activities can be completed with the same school, or with different schools from around the world
  • completed a set of evaluation forms for parents, pupils, teachers, and school visitors for all activities providing individual reflection on the collaborative activities undertaken.


A school at this level will:

  • be able to demonstrate an international ethos throughout the school
  • be involved with substantial curriculum-based international activity
  • be able to demonstrate collaborative work
  • probably have a history of international activity over the past two years at least
  • have a number of teachers from a range of subjects and year groups who have successfully integrated global themes and international awareness into their lessons
  • undertaken whole-school activities. (Visit the British Council resources section for ideas). 
  • probably have organised visits overseas and international exchanges or teacher study visits that closely tie in with curriculum-embedded international work.

Many of you will, in all likelihood, already have engaged in enough international activity to fulfill the majority of the criteria expected of Intermediate level schools – some of you may even be approaching the levels expected of Full level schools!

The British Council has set out detailed guidance documents that are brilliant, and vitally useful to those thinking of applying. You can read them here, and if you would like some help in working through them as you apply for the award, please get in touch and I would be happy to help guide you through!

At Link Ethiopia, we are working closely with the British Council to make it easier and simpler for our school’s to apply and achieve the award, and we design many of our activities and ideas with the criteria of the ISA (as well as for Connecting Classrooms grants) firmly in mind. Our Steering Committee initiative is designed to bring in other teachers, staff and students – just what is required of the Intermediate and Full level award.

One of our Link Coordinators, Joy Hardy at Queniborough School, has been kind enough to offer her experience and expertise of successfully applying for all three levels of the ISA. If you would like us to put you in touch with her for more support and inspiration, please get in touch and we can make a start on your ISA application!


Posted in 2013, School links | Tagged , , , , , ,

Your Weekly Update: Libraries & Literacy


Literacy & Libraries

We hope to see more and more of this across our Ethiopian Link Schools!
I’d like to welcome you all to this Weekly Update from the Link Ethiopia School Links team!

We’re taking a good look at our latest major project – our Literacy and Libraries project, funded in part by the Waterloo Foundation. This project will be across 40 of our Link Schools, but we hope that with your help, we can increase this number and improve the reading facilities across many more of our Ethiopian Schools!

At Link Ethiopia, we believe that education is a route out of poverty, and the Waterloo Foundation supports this. Our aim with this project is to improve the library facilities available to students, as well as ensuring these facilities are equipped with the appropriate reading material necessary for study and learning – we aim to create an environment conducive for a quality education.

We have £26,000 for the first two stages of the project, which will allow us to carry out this project in 40 schools, across both the Northern and Southern regions of Ethiopia in which we work. But our hope is to be able to bring this project to 60 schools in need of improved literacy and reading facilities.

This means that we are seeking an additional contribution of £13,000 to enable us to reach our target goal of 60 schools. Not an incredible sum, but one that we really could use your help and support!

If each of our 150 UK Link Schools raised just £100, we would easily smash that target, and be able to run this amazing project across 3/4 of our Ethiopian schools!

£661 for each of our Ethiopian Link Schools would allow us to carry out the project, which is detailed further below. I will also suggest some great fundraising options!

The support of our Link Schools here in the UK could really mean the difference for this project, and would allow it to have a much greater impact! If you think you and your school would be interested and able to help, please get in touch with me, or our Projects & Fundraising Manager Shree, at [email protected].

Thanks for reading! Until next week – Caio!

The Project

One of our previous library projects at Keta Elementary in Debre Zeit

For the project, each participating school will:

1)    Be trained in and participate in the School Library Award 

2)    Be provided with an additional 100 contextually/curriculum relevant books 

3)    Trained in and set up reading clubs.  A manual has been developed in a pilot project which provides activities for reading clubs (both general and specific to Ethiopian folktales – see http://www.ethiopianfolktales.com/). The reading club will also include outreach activities to promote community reading/storytelling, once every two months.

4)    Receive a 1 Day Training programme, with follow up observations, in improved reading practice to introduce “bite-size” storytelling or reading sessions lasting up to 20 minutes every day for each class and for all the grades. 

5)    Be trained in the teaching of phonics and provided with free phonic resources (Link Ethiopia has a partnership will the UK organisation THRASS who provide free phonic resources to schools). Currently Ethiopian schools do not teach phonics but the USAID 2010 report recommended its introduction. 

6)    Introduce peer reading activities through appointment of male and female class “reading champions”

7)    Introduce “Reading Bee competition” to create reading culture and embedding libraries as the centre of learning activities within the schools. 

8)    Create a library link with an existing partner school in the UK including joint activities around particular books/folktales.

You can read & learn more on our Literacy Project page on our website.


Fundraising for the Literacy & Libraries project would obviously be a big commitment from your school – but we also know that schools and students love the fun and excitement a great fundraising opportunity brings.

So, to make your fundraising efforts as fun and easy as possible, Link Ethiopia will be helping you wherever and whenever we can!

The first step – Creating a Virgin Money giving page is a great way of setting yourself up with a really easy-to-use and professional fundraising platform.

From here you can simply and easily reach out to the wider school community and beyond! 

The next step – Planning some innovating and fun fundraising activities, to coincide with major school calendar events – such as the Summer Fair – is (as you’ll certainly know better than me!) a great way to get as many students, staff and parents involved (and donating money) as possible!

Our Fundraising Guide has loads of great suggestions for fundraising ideas for our schools and Link Coordinators! And we have a wealth of resources and materials you can use to promote it, and to make Fair stalls look as fun and Ethiopian as we can! Just have a look on the resources page on our website, or get in touch to discuss your ideas personally.

We also have items that would be great for selling and raising money on any Summer Fair stalls – our Wristbands being the most colourful and fun. But we also have Link Ethiopia pens, badges and stickers which have proved popular at fundraising fairs in the past! We also have some beautiful Ethiopian crosses that can be sold to raise funds! Please get in touch if you’re interested in using any of these items in your fundraising activities!

Finally, another really easy and simple way of raising money for this project is to use the Give as you Live online fundraising website, which donates money to us everytime that you shop online!   It couldn’t be easier to set-up (have a look at last week’s Weekly Update for more info on this) – all you need to do is click on the image next to this to get started!

Posted in 2013, Libraries, books and literacy, Projects, School links | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Schools Weekly Update Archive!

We wanted to show off the archives of our brilliant weekly School Updates, which cover a range of fun and informative topics! They’re designed to enrich the linking experiences of our UK and international Link Schools and provide them with a regular means of communication with the Link Ethiopia team!

We wanted to share our archive of Weekly Updates, as they’re a really fun and interesting way of getting an insight into our School Linking activities, and into all things Ethiopia-related! Take a look, and enjoy!

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Posted in 2013, School links | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,