Happy New Year! We hope that you are keeping well, and we are looking forward to a very different year ahead.
In Ethiopia pupils who returned to school in November have completed catch-up lessons for last year and moved onto their new grade level. Term dates have shifted back this year to accommodate the extra lessons, pupils are wearing masks, and class sizes have been reduced wherever possible. Overall, the efforts to continue education as safely as possible have been impressive.
In the UK and Ethiopia, we are managing to maintain our activities in spite of the rising number of coronavirus cases in both countries. We are doing our best to continue our work from home or at a safe distance. It has been heartening to see the extra value that our school facilities bring under coronavirus restrictions and I would like to especially thank our Ethiopian team who got projects underway as soon as they possibly could, and to great effect.
The news of the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia has been upsetting for all concerned. Our project areas are in other regions and our staff and beneficiaries have not been directly affected, but are of course saddened at the situation. We hope for a peaceful resolution and return to normality in the region as soon as possible.
Annual Reports Released
We are pleased to share with you our report on activities and accounts for the year from April 2019 to March 2020.
As the reports cover the period before our merger they are under our former names: Link Ethiopia and The Kindu Trust. We look forward to reporting on our united efforts in the future as Together We Learn; 2020 has provided a great lesson in just how valuable it is to pull together to continue the work that is outlined in our reports.
Last year our teacher training project was interrupted by the closure of schools due to coronavirus. We were very grateful to our funder, The Waterloo Foundation, for renewing their support so that we could run the project again when schooling resumed in October.
In this phase of the project we are working with early years teachers in 40 schools across four cities in Amhara, as well as providing training to new teachers through the teacher training college in Gondar.
In the last project year, we saw again the remarkable impact of teaching pupils to read English using the phonics method. Children who had received phonics lessons (target) showed an increase in their English reading age of nine months by the end of the year, whereas children in normal lessons (control) showed no improvement, as shown in the graph above.
So far our team have already trained 80 teachers and directors, and carried out follow-up lesson observations to support them. We will run refresher training next semester too and hope to see a similar positive impact on the pupils at the end of this year.
School Projects Double their Impact
Brightly lit, functional classrooms and running water are always important, but with Covid-19 safety restrictions in place this year, every new facility is having a double impact. A new classroom means more space and smaller class sizes to enable socially distant learning. Concrete builds with large windows mean better ventilation in classes and libraries, and water stations and pump wells mean better sanitation for students and teachers.
Since our projects have resumed we have refurbished four classrooms at Gendit, completed a new classroom at Kumbursa Elementary and a four classroom block at Silingo. At Kumbursa, a kintergartern class can now learn in their own space, rather than sharing a class with grade 1 pupils, and at Silingo 200 students in eight classes are benefiting from the new space. Two new water stations have also been built at Gendit and Atse Bekaffa schools.
Christmas Campaign Target Reached
We would like to thank you all again for your incredible support of our Christmas campaign! Last December we ran our first match-funded campaign thanks to the Big Give Challenge and Ethiopiaid. We were overjoyed to exceed our target, raising £14,066 in total.
The funds will support our new Future Girls: Confidence in Education programme. The programme expands on our previous girls’ education projects and aims not only to help girls to attend school, but to create an environment that enables them to attend with confidence, and go further in education.
Our Lijinete Women’s Network has been running for almost a year and we have been impressed by their resilience through difficult times as well as the impact they are managing to achieve in their communities. The project brings together a group of women who have been affected by child motherhood.
The network received training and business loans early last year and meet monthly to support eachother and other young women and girls in the community. Our staff and the local women’s office support the network members in their community role. Hearing updates from the network is emotional - the risks facing girls are real and significant. Hearing about the impact our network members are able to have is also uplifting.
To date, the network members have personally intervened to prevent two child marriages, supported two girls affected by sexual assault and influenced others to prevent assault taking place. In each case we follow up to try and help the girls affected recover and remain in education.
The women are doing a job that inspires us all and we hope to run a meeting before the end of the project for the network members to feed back to local authorities and community elders about what they are seeing and make recommendations to better protect and support girls.
Calling All Lockdown Runners!
Did you pick up jogging in the first lockdown? Or the second? Or this one? If so, challenge and motivate yourself by signing up to one of our running events in October 2021. Together We Learn has places for the Virgin London Marathon and the Royal Parks Half Marathon this October. Both events are planned as live events in London.
Running a race for Together We Learn means raising valuable funds for our work supporting children in Ethiopia, as well as taking part in a satisfying running challenge. See here for more information, or contact us to book your place.