Child with Cat and Dog book

Reading and learning in Ethiopia

16th January 2018 | Blog

Last year we introduced you to Tefere, the librarian at Walia Primary School in Debark, a town in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia. The region has been described as one of the poorest in Africa. We are working with International Development Partnerships, an NGO supporting rural communities in the poorest parts of Ethiopia, to help improve the quality of education by providing brand new books to school libraries like Tefere’s.

In this blog, we hear from Mesfin, the librarian at another school in the region, Debark Primary School and some of his pupils about the difference the books you help to send are making.


Mesfin, Ethiopia


Librarian Mesfin Alem Agidew’s school library is housed in one of Debark Primary School’s oldest buildings. It is about 50 years old and constructed of wood and mud. Its walls are painted on the inside, it has a vinyl floor and skylights in the roof. There is no power and so the space can be quite dark on dull days.

“It is difficult because there are only some good places to read when it is a dark day. We need more light and more windows,” says Mesfin.

Despite these challenges, Mesfin’s library is a popular place. Teachers bring children to make use of reference books as part of their lessons. Between lessons and after school, pupils come to read storybooks, do their homework or revise for exams and tests. Mesfin is always on hand to support pupils’ reading:

I enjoy my job because I like to help the students. They come here to gain knowledge and I can help them.


Ermiyas Ethiopia
Ermiyas uses books in the library to help with his science homework


One of those students, Ermiyas Tadas Yigziw (pictured above), comes to the library after school and uses textbooks to help with his homework and improve his grades. The brand new books on science, nature, animals and space that you helped to send are a hit with young scientists like Ermiyas. The breadth of information, bright colours and helpful illustrations make them a popular addition to the school library.


Reading in the library after school
These three pupils came to the library to read after their classes had finished


Likewise, these three young pupils (above) have come to the library after their classes ended in the morning and asked to read the new storybooks also provided thanks to your generosity. They spent an hour reading quietly before going home.

Both the curriculum support books and story books you helped to send are proving a hit with the pupils. Mesfin wants his pupils to have every reason to read and enjoy them all the more:

“My hope for the future is that we will get a better, new library with more space and more light. If it is attractive and light, children will spend longer here reading and learning. I hope soon we will get a new building.”


Learn more about our work in Ethiopia and our work to support children’s education across Africa and beyond using the links below.

Photos © Heidi Cutts IDP


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Every year we provide thousands of books to schools to help children make the most of their education.
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Learn more about our work to support readers in Ethiopia here.
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Your gift can help us send more books to school libraries like Mesfin's.
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