Tag Archives: International Development Partners

Child with Cat and Dog book

Reading and learning in Ethiopia

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


Child with Cat and Dog book

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.


Girls reading
Two girls share books in the library


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.


Children reading
Pupils use books in the library to help with their school work


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.


About Ethiopia

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