Causing a Flap in Education

By 21st August 2019 Uncategorised

Causing a Flap is a project run by a network of UK universities, which includes experts from fields such as Archaeology, Anthropology and Genetics, who research the role chickens play in societies around the world. They research the social significance of chickens; as a provider of foodstuffs, use in medicine, magic and cock-fighting, from their native origins in South East Asia to their global distribution today. An earlier phase of the project had worked with Ethiopian women to empower them through chicken farming projects as a source of income generation, you can see a video about the project here.

Where does Link Ethiopia come in?

In May 2018, the University of Nottingham and Univeristy of Bournemouth researchers collaborating on Causing a Flap invited Link Ethiopia to join them at a conference, to discuss how their research could be used to assist education in Ethiopia. In an earlier phase of the project they had visited Ethiopia to collect data, do education outreach and collaborated with curator and artist, Heidi Cutts, to create an art exhibition on ‘women and chickens’ at the Ethiopian National Museum. Following this success, they approached us with the idea of creating a teaching resource based on chickens. The consortium had already been working with schools in the UK as well as the Ethiopian National Museum and Ethiopian Agricultural Museum and wanted to collaborate with us to develop educational resources that could be used to teach English and numeracy in schools. We know that teaching aids and resources are scarce in the schools we support and it’s a real challenge for teachers to keep large classes of students engaged with only a blackboard, so we were pleased to support the Causing A Flap project to develop relevant resources.

“Working with Link Ethiopia, we were able to translate our research in a meaningful and useful way for use in schools in Ethiopia. It was important to us to create teaching resources that were informed by our research, but that could also be made to the specification of educators in Ethiopia so that they were appropriate, useful and appealed to the teachers and students”  – Holly Miller, Assistant Professor in Zooarchaeology at the University of Nottingham

Why chickens?

Chickens had been identified by the network as an ideal subject to develop resources around as they are familiar to so many households across the globe. In Ethiopia, the chicken is a well recognised animal; many families own a chicken, eggs are a common source of protein, and major celebrations feature the ‘doro wot’ chicken stew dish. We agree that it is important for learning resources that are to be used in Ethiopia to feature narratives and objects that are familiar to the children, to help them engage with what they’re learning.  Often, donated English educational resources are difficult for Ethiopian children to relate to and contain images and references that quickly become incomprehensible. Our new resources use images drawn in the traditional Ethiopian style, involve Ethiopian characters and names, and feature objects and situations that are familiar to Ethiopia.

Developing Resources

The University of Nottingham invited our staff and a secondary school teacher from one of our link schools in Ethiopia to participate in a conference on the development of the resources. Following the conference, we sent out sample materials to Ethiopia with Heidi, who held introductory lesson for teachers in Gondar. The first half of the day introduced the resources and trained teachers on how they could be used for different subjects. The second half of the day provided a model lesson with students to demonstrate how the resources could be used as teaching aids. Following this trial lesson, the resources were adapted based on feedback provided by teachers and students.

The Causing A Flap project provided teacher resource packs for 60 classrooms across Gondar. Thanks to the project, 60 classes across 10 schools have large posters for their classroom walls and reading booklets between pairs of children in each class – which is very rare! Together, these resources assist in teaching basic English and numeracy.  It has been great to see the finished articles and fantastic to see them being used.  The teachers are so pleased to have adequate teaching materials which will help keep children engaged throughout lessons.