Saturday, November 22, 2014

Our new PTA

Apprehensive before the race
 This week has been all go yet again with exam week. To get the exams typed was a nightmare – there were just too many and next time we will take some of them to the local typing place, since it was an overload of work for the school secretary and me !
With their medals
However, the end result was very pleasing, with the children all enjoying the exams ( and the days holiday on Friday ! ) and on the whole doing very well. The quality of the exams has risen every year and every year we are amazed at the increasing academic level – which gives everyone – teachers, pupils and parents – a real boost !
This week also saw our first whole school meeting of the year at the far school, with the voting for the PTA  ( parent teacher association ) . Amazingly, many parents were very keen on joining and thus we now have a PTA , with chairperson, vice chairperson  and secretary ! We hope that the PTA will enable us to improve even further and come up with new and exciting suggestions !
My children manage to finish the Great Ethiopian Run ! – It was a little disorganized, with there being much confusion as to which race was running at which time ( it was supposed to be divided into boys / girls as well as according to age ). As a result, all children over the age of 5 ended up running as one giant pack and then found to their great disappointment that at the end the race was void !
This meant the poor children had to run it all again ! – this time , according to their age and gender  - which was a bit difficult – but they were duly rewarded with a medal, bottle of water and a banana at the end  !

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Exams and the Great Ethiopian Run

Our busy KG 1 classroom
At work in KG 1

This week we are getting ready for exams – and now with the new classes there will be a total of 57 different exams to check, type and photocopy ! Exams feature heavily in the Ethiopian educational system, with even the nursery pupils ( three year olds ) having exams in English, maths, science, Amharic – and for some Oromifa !
Typically, exams are multiple choice , but since we want them to be as meaningful as possible, then we have actual questions involving drawing and colouring and finding the odd one out etc. This has proved difficult for our new teachers – of which year there is a lot – the new Oromofia teacher for nursery ,  KG 1 ( as Weinshet – the previous teacher left to have a baby and although prior to leaving planned to return, when it actually came to it, she decided to stay with her new born ) new Oromifa grade 1 teacher and grade 3 ( as previously there were only a few students for grade 3 and 4 so they were combined ) – but eventually, with the guidance of the old teachers, meaningful exams have been compiled.
The Great Ethiopian Run is on the 23rd November – with the 2 kilometre race the day before. This year, our two children have decided to enter with the aim of raising funds for the school. Having studied at the school three years, they know only too well how some of the pupils struggle for food on a daily basis  and how simple things like shoes and clothes should not be taken for granted.
If you wish to sponsor them in the race, please visit :
Every little bit helps !

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Injections for all !

This week has been a busy one as at long last we have managed to sort out all the things that were moved out from the central grade school which closed down in the summer. Moving is always problematic as there are a million and one little bits and pieces that have been accumulated – so with a school, the problem is dramatically increased! – it is amazing the number of little bits of paper that we have and the number of bits of toys and puzzles that have made their way into the wrong boxes !

As a result, we didn’t have time to sort all the little bits out so instead simply packed things in boxes to be moved to the new far school. This week, we had a good go and all the staff members worked together to get it all sorted out!

 At the moment there is an outbreak of meningitis in Ethiopia and as a result, the health workers were coming round to all schools to give free injections – which is truly marvellous! They set up camp in the playground yesterday and pupils patiently waited in line for their turn! Amazingly, only two pupils cried! – the teachers made more of a fuss!  The injections were available for everyone aged 1 – 29 so was very flattered when the teachers all told me to go and wait in line for mine!! (being a tad over 29!)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Drains and things …

Drains and plumbing in Ethiopia aren’t the same as in many countries – here it is much more hands on !  The drains in the Kindergarten school has been troubling for a few weeks now, however this week they gave up completely and thus  we had to get the “ plumber ” in. 
The toilets on the right side and the subsequent holes
.  This poor man had to single-handedly dig a huge hole and try to sort out the blockage amidst the muck ! He had a wonderful spirit as he working however – shouting with excitement every time he found another thing that was causing the blockage ( a mixture of balls, stones  and a teacher’s mobile phone which had fallen down the toilet about a month ago ! )

Our new nursery class is now almost ready for launching – just awaiting a new teacher. However, this week’s news is that once the grade pupils parents heard about there being a special class for the nursery in Oroifa, then they requested a new class for grade 1 ( this was only a vague possibility last week ) – meaning that we will shortly be a school with 9 classes ! – an expensive but exciting challenge!
The hole !

Friday, October 17, 2014

The school is expanding once again - this time for Oromifa !

This week has been a very mixed time, due to matters beyond our control !
The confusing development this week was  the news that we have to have Oromifa classes  - regardless of the number of pupils interested . Nazret ( or Adama to give it its original Oromo name ) is located in a region known as Oromia . The official language of the Oromia region is Oromo and in more rural areas, for many this is the only language that they know. ( see for more info )
KG 2 class in action

In order to keep this language alive, ( in a country where the national language is Amharic ) schools in the more rural Oromia regions are required to have special Oromifa classes. As the new far school is in an area which was previously a rural village and thus people are all farmers, we have always had these special Oromifa classes, with no problems. 

However,  there has now been a decision by the government that if parents want all subjects to be taught in Oromifa, then the school has to oblige. This has meant that we are being forced to open up a nursery class of a mere 8 pupils and the possibility of another class for the grade section – meaning additional expenses in buying and making more tables and chairs for the new classes – not to mention the expense of hiring new teachers !

Still, it will be interesting to have new classes and fun to train up new teachers and prepare whole new classes with flashcards and displays  and great to see the school swell to an amazing 8 ( or possibly 9 classes ) when just over a year ago it was a mere empty shell – so as the blog message started – a very mixed week indeed !

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Back once again

After a long wait at last the blog is back on its feet ! With a schedule that was just too hectic, the blog simply got left behind - but the good news is that it is now back on track -so the summary of the past few months at English Alive :
KG 2 ready for action !

The biggest change has been the closure of the central grade school. This was due to  a change in the rules and regulations about renting properties. As many pupils as possible have been transferred across to the new far school but as the name suggests, it is on the outskirts of the town and thus the 30 minute bus travel is not suitable for everyone.

The most positive part of this has been our added resolve to purchase our own land and build our own school.  We have started collecting funds for this and hope to launch a capital campaign with matching funding in December.

Grade 2 class with their new tables
On a personal note, our family have also had a huge change, since our son is now in grade 5 and the school only provides education up to grade 4. As a result, we were forced to move back to the capital Addis Ababa so that our children could continue their schooling. I now work part time at a school in Addis as an educational consultant and spend half the week in Nazret at English Alive with the rest of the family coming across as many weekends as possible. This makes for a busy - but very interesting schedule !

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy Ethiopian Christmas !

 In addition to having their own time ( the day starting at 6 am when the sun rises and finishing at 6 pm when the sun sets – thus making Ethiopian time 6 hours behind Western time ) Ethiopia has its own Christmas – which will be on 7th January. 

 Christmas here is a one day affair – although for the women is a two- three day case since the traditional dish of dora wot ( chicken stew ) is typically eaten at Christmas , which requires about ten kilos of onions to be finely chopped to make the dish !  Presents are not exchanged and the highlight of the day is the eating of the chicken, since meat is an expensive treat. 

Each year, the school has a Christmas party with cake, sweets and biscuits as well as soft drink ! In other countries  all these artificial sweeteners etc  would be frowned upon , however for pupils at our school this may well be a once a year treat ! 

Some of the things that our students are looking forward to for Christmas : 

Sosina ( aged 8 ) " I  want to eat popcorn for Christmas ! " 

Eyob  ( age 12 ) – “ I am looking forward to wearing my jacket, shirt and new shoes. “

                        Alazar ( age 7 )  " I can't wait to eat traditional bread. "