Aderak Full Elementary School "Fikre Alem"

First new desks arrive with new road-side notice board

The first school we started helping was the “Fikre Alem” (world love) School at Aderak in the Tigrai Region of Northern Ethiopia. Initially it was built by the poor farming community as part of the Government’s initiative to extend access to primary education nationally. It is recognised by the Bureau of Education (BoE) who provide staffing, but due to budgetary constraints, little else.

This school is in an isolated neglected off-road area with no water or other services. But like all schools it is the natural hub of the community and the vehicle through which information and a variety of support can be channeled. This community is comprised of largely uneducated peasant farmers living on the extreme margins of existence, but are aware of the value of education. With this knowledge and dream they had built a substantial four classroom school block in local stone - but the rooms had no flooring, furniture or even black boards. Due to continual failing harvests, they did not have the capacity to do or afford more work.

That these parents perceive sufficient value in schooling to send their children in increasing numbers to enrol is heartening. To encourage their education can really give children the chance to fulfill their potential and to play their part in building democratic societies and dynamic, globally competitive economies.

Identified to us by the local BoE,in late 2004 A-CET, through its local partners EYES, had discussions with the school and its community board and offered support. A list of needs was drawn up by them and their priorities were initially flooring, furniture plus blackboards,followed by more classrooms,an office/library and latrines.

What we did in 2005

A-CET, initially with funding from the Global Issues Network (GIN), see partners - we started our support which was the flooring and provision of locally made furniture. The community undertook the flooring using locally collected sand, hand-crushed stones and water - with the cement provided by us. By involving the community we fostered their continued sense of ownership in their school and of this project.

Local oversight was provided by EYES and by 2005 the original Aderak School four classroom block was fully equipped with blackboards and desks on proper floors.

The effect on the community and their obvious pride in their upgraded school was incredible. Probably the most impressive change was that from a school with a little over 200 enrolled students in Grades 1 to 4 at the outset, by the time that we had finished this phase of the project, the enrolled students had risen to over 500!

To accomodate this vast almost immediate increase in school numbers, the community built a second classroom block. A-CET helped them put in floors, doors, windows and provided desk-sets. That this largely uneducated and illiterate farming community with little understanding or appreciation of the benefits of education, had released more of their offspring from cattle-herding and farming on their farms to attend was very heartening. The excitement, energy and confidence developed by the school’s completion of Phase 1 has developed a real sense of “can do”.

These children who attend are from the poorest families, few have any footwear and boys often lack trousers, wearing long grubby vests. Many children walk for hours to attend and some are obviously malnourished with dry cracked skin and world weary faces. The school has an open-door policy and charges no fees.

New desks arrive and students

What the community are doing

THe community built the first classroom block by “food for work” labour. This letter from the school and community, after thanking A-CET/EYES for their support, pledge their full involvement by building the school compound wall, planting and irrigating trees (rain collection tanks from the first block have already been built) & motivating/supporting the contractor plus “resolving any problems”.

What we did in 2006

The BoE have upgraded this school to a Full Elementary School with eight grades. School class sizes are officially 50 students. Upgrading the school meant doubling of school numbers to minimally 1,000 students. With funding from our partners, we have built a library, two new classroom blocks with 8 classes and latrines.

New Classrooms & Administration buildings under construction

Buildings in progress from May to Sept 2006

LEFT Classroom block ceilings being fitted 22 Jul & RIGHT Floor tiling 12 Aug 2006

Construction was completed with desks delivered on time for the school re-opening.

Official dedication on 8 Oct 2006

Funding for this project was principally through Band Aid, Global Issues Network, Irish Rovers, 4i2i, Coornhert Gymnasium, Tobias Woerner and many others. Thank you all.

No percentages or fees are taken by anyone and EYES, with the help of a resident Engineering consultant, over-saw the work and accounted for all expenditures.

David & Bisrat arriving & school being opened by Mr Desta, Regional Bureau of Education with Bisrat

Soccer team with new Stoke strip Apr 07 and outside school

Soccer team training with Irish Rover professional trainers on a Jun 07 visit

This school is currently helping to bring improved access and better educational facilities to over a thousand of the most vulnerable children - exactly our objectives.

Go to Schools Home-page, Adihana School or Future School projects