Our Founder and CEO Tells the Story So Far…
I’ve lived to make a difference in education. Firstly as a teacher, then as a headteacher, an Education Advisor and finally as a Lead School Inspector. I decided to leave a legacy, a lifelong dream, a new school to give a life chance to kids in true poverty.
In June 2018 I went out to Ethiopia. I worked with the charity Link Ethiopia to find an Ethiopian village that needed a school.
I travel a lot around the world. Ethiopia was one of the countries that felt right to build a school. I fell in love with the humble people and the need to help the children.
Ethiopia is the third poorest country in Africa. Sponsorship of education has been focused mainly on Ghana, Rwanda, Malawi, Kenya and Uganda. But-hey! Ethiopia is on the up. A new prime minister, improved exports and infrastructure, (including tourism) is beginning to have impact.
At the beginning of this decade only 50% of primary age children were in school. In 2010 the government introduced free schooling for children aged 7-10 years old. Primary school now consists of two cycles-7-10 and 11-14 but only 50% of children still complete both cycles and even less in rural areas. Many, particularly girls, are forced into marriage, working on the farm or, sadly trafficked out for payment. Many girls do not attend due to lack of sanitary provision and gender discrimination.
Children learn both English and Amarhic but the curriculum is formal and often school is half a day only. Teaching is chalk and talk with rote learning. Many teachers do not want to work in rural areas and salaries are poor. Conditions are dire. There is no space, no training, no resourcing and no materials. Up to 100 children sit on stones, up-turned tables or benches. That’s if they’re lucky. This is in a rubble-based bamboo constructed hut or concrete room with no electricity, just one blackboard, one teachers book and one piece of chalk In rural areas, attendance is low due to lack of provision and pressure from having to work. Library facilities are poor, class sizes large and virtually no equipment.
Choosing the Right Village
Four villages were chosen by the Ministry of Education and then we had to choose just one. It was a tough decision. The kids ran towards us bringing flowers and leaves as gifts and singing songs. Humbling doesn’t begin to describe it. In each village I met with the kids, village elders, teachers and advisors and watched and joined in lessons. Our conversations were translated from Amarhic into English.
Which Village We Chose
After nine days (in monsoon season…), miles of dirt tracks, ten thousand tuk-tuks and overloaded minibuses we found the village. It was Gendit village where a virtually mile long inaccessible dirt track led to two breeze block classrooms, one blackboard, one piece of chalk, no tables and 70 kids in a class.
There are seven villages round Gendit and the chance for over 500 kids to have a local school. There’s a good secondary school 1km away but many kids stay at home because there is currently no proper primary school.
So, long story…but in partnership with the charity Link Ethiopia a proposal was written to fund and build a brand new primary school for Gendit.
What Do We Want to Build?
A brand new primary school for kids aged 7-14 years old. This will have a perimeter fence, eight classrooms, two outdoor classrooms, a director’s office, a staff room, a resource room, a library, a sports area, toilets, plots for each class to grow their own crops and a science laboratory. We’ll need resources like books, chalk, uniforms, writing materials as well. We have been donated the land for free which is a great start (and the good thing is, there is plenty of it!).