A guest blog by our partner, Sue Eland
Hello, my name is Sue Eland and I’m delighted to be working alongside Link Ethiopia. In 2018, I approached Link Ethiopia with a dream to build a primary school in Ethiopia. This was a long-held dream and I was finally in a position to take the first steps towards making it happen. My background is in education, firstly as a headteacher, then a school inspector and as an education consultant. My dream was to leave a legacy to help children out of poverty and into education.
And so a long but very exciting journey began. Thankfully, Link Ethiopia were very interested in supporting me and provide essential in-country knowledge and contacts. I was also keen to involve the Ministry of Education in order to help make the project sustainable in the longer term. It was agreed to be a collaborative effort between myself (Building Futures Ethiopia), Link Ethiopia and the Ministry of Education.
In June 2018, Link helped me to organise a visit to Ethiopia to see a number of rural schools. The Ministry of Education had identified four villages that desperately needed more classrooms or even a new school! I had an amazing week with Link Ethiopia, visiting each school and meeting with the children, teachers and village elders. At the end of the week, we had a difficult decision to make. We finally chose to build a school in Gendit, a small village 50km from Gondar in northern Ethiopia which only had a ‘satellite school’ catering for Grades 1 and 2. If we built up the school in Gendit to provide a full cycle of primary education (Grades 1 to 8), up to 500 children could have access to primary education and there was a good secondary school in the nearby town where they could continue their education.
So, the next chapter began. Over the past year, I have worked closely alongside Link Ethiopia to produce a vision, a build schedule and a programme of support for the new school in Gendit. This project is unique in that, not only are we funding buildings and resources to scale the school all the way up to the full cycle of primary education, I will also be helping to develop the quality of teaching at the school by working alongside the Director, Link Ethiopia staff and teachers. We’re hoping it will be a model school in the region. This is an innovative and very exciting prospect for everyone!
I revisited Gendit in February 2019 to take part in the Breaking of the Stone Ceremony. What an event; a hundred villagers, babies on backs, community elders, priests, the Regional Director of Education and even the Mayor of Gondar turned up. We gave speeches, broke bread and drank Sprite to celebrate the laying of the foundations for the first classrooms.
Phase 1 is now ongoing. Classrooms and latrines are rising out of the ground and we hope to have four new classrooms in use by September 2019 when the school will officially be opened. Our aim is to have built eight classrooms, pit latrines, a water station, a library and a staff room by the end of 2022.
I’m looking forward to visiting Gendit again in November 2019 to see the progress made. I’ve just completed a Teaching English as a Foreign Language course so I’m also hoping to be able to have a go at teaching a class of 50 seven year olds English!
To find out more about Sue and her support for the Gendit project, visit the Building Futures Ethiopia website here.