Tag Archives: literacy

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 , , , , , , , , , ,

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 , , , , , , , , ,

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 , , , , , , , , , ,