Inspiring young readers in Ethiopia
We are committed to supporting pupils struggling to learn in under-resourced schools, so we are proud to be working with International Development Partnerships (IDP), an NGO supporting rural communities in the poorest parts of Ethiopia to overcome poverty and build a brighter future. IDP focuses on improving both the quality of education children receive and children’s access to school. A key part of this is working with schools to improve the level of English language teaching.
The brand new books we have sent to IDP will give teachers the resources to support their English Language teaching and children with the opportunity to practise their English in and outside the classroom as well as learn about the world around them and grow a love of reading. This blog, the first of a series provided by IDP, shares the story of Tefere, librarian at Walia Primary School in northern Ethiopia.
Tefere is the proud librarian overseeing the school library at Walia Primary School. The school is located in Debark, a town in the Amhara region in northern Ethiopia. It has been described as the poorest region in Africa.
Unlike many school libraries in the area, Tefere’s library is built with bricks and has a sealed, tiled floor (many school libraries are made of wood and mud and have unsealed floors). The space is open, bright and filled with tables and chairs provided by IDP. Children quietly study and read alone or in small groups, using the library to do homework, revise or read for pleasure.
Tefere’s pride over his library is evident: the books are well organised, the space is always clean and he keeps detailed records of who uses the library and what they read. His love for the library has spilled over to the pupils who treat each other, the library space and the books with respect.
The books you have helped to send are very popular with the pupils. They love the bright illustrations and the chance to read about such a wide range of topics. Books on science, animals and space are particular favourites and they are even enticing children to read English books in their spare time:
Me and my friend are going to read the new books. We don’t have class this afternoon so we are going to the library.
It’s not only the pupils at the school that are flourishing with access to books. Tefere is also using them to read, learn and become a better support to the pupils in the school:
I am so lucky to have the chance to read while I am in the library, to change my life for the better. I like to read history books. I’ve learned so much more about history and then help the students with their questions.
Over the past ten years, Ethiopia has made real achievements in poverty reduction, particularly in child mortality rates and access to clean water. However, very high levels of rural poverty continue and drought and food scarcity pose ongoing threats to rural communities throughout the country.
Huge strides have also been made in education; primary enrolments have quadrupled over the last two decades. However many schools are overcrowded and poorly resourced, with few or no supplementary books for children to read. According to government policy, education beyond primary is in English. It is therefore imperative for pupils to have a good grasp of English while in primary school so they can continue their education. Yet the scarcity of resources means that children often have little exposure to English outside the classroom.
We are proud to work with IDP to support people like Tefere and his pupils as part of our wider efforts to ensure that children in Ethiopia have books that will enrich, improve and change their lives.
Learn more about our work in Ethiopia and our work to support children’s education across Africa using the links below.
Photos © Heidi Cutts IDP