Enthusiasm about a new school year

by Steven Hofmann/RBU, 2012/09/14

This week, a new school year started for students in Bavaria and Baden Württemberg, the two federal states (länder) of Germany with the latest school start dates. While opinions about this event are divided in German classrooms, children in Ethiopia agree that the beginning of school is a matter of joy to them. This is what was witnessed by coordinator Steven Hofmann:

“In Ethiopia school starts in the middle of September. After an eight weeks summer break, the children who are part of the family sponsorship programs in Addis Abeba, Debre Zeit and Jijiga look forward to going back to school soon. All agree: “Finally school starts again!””

Before children of all ages returned to their classrooms, like every year, there was a distribution of school materials by humedica. Each one of “our” children received a packet consisting of exercise books, pencils, coloured pencils, a sharpener and a rubber. In addition, all students received a new school uniform.

Moreover, we were also able to provide 310 other students with school materials, who live in the Mercato quarter in Addis Abeba and are not part of our sponsorship projects. As a part of our sponsorship program it is also important to us to promote projects of common public interest. In this case to allow access to education also to boys and girls who do not have sponsors in Germany. Altogether we have been able to hand out school school supplies to 764 children.

In all projects, the distribution of school supplies took place in a very celebratory atmosphere. At the same time we celebrated the beginning of the Ethiopian New Year. Ethiopians use a version of the Coptic calendar according to which the new year begins on the 11th of September (in analogy with our Gregorian calendar).

The social program that accompanied the distributions was arranged together with the children and was enjoyed by everyone. Pieces of music, songs and poems were rehearsed and performed with much applause. Apart from that, games were organized for the children, like bursting balloons that were tied to their ankles and a banana eating contest.

Children aged ten to twelve were given a lecture about lions. We had collected some facts about the king of the animals beforehand and made a presentation for the children. Even though the lecture was given during a celebration, the children had to do a little test afterwards. But then, those with the best results also received a reward for their attention.

Little Japsera is overjoyed by his new schoolbag for preschool. Little things that bring great joy. Photo: humedica

People were also enthusiastic about the drink that was offered: lemonade, something that most people here normally cannot afford. I was given the special honour of cutting the traditional big New Year’s bread.

Moreover, the festivity also included that the best students of the past school year were rewarded for their achievements. The most successful students received presents, accompanied by great applause and the proud eyes of their mothers. In accordance with their class level they were rewarded with English dictionaries or useful books for math, grammar and science.

It was great to see how much people enjoyed little things such as the gifts and the celebration. Especially the little ones were overjoyed when they received their new coloured pencils. Some of them wanted to start painting right then. Little Japsera vom Debre Zeit, for example, packed his schoolbag immediately and carried it around on his back the whole afternoon with proud eyes, so that everyone could see it.

Thinking of the fact that in Ethiopia only 42.5 per cent of the over-15-year-olds can read and write (half of the men, 35 per cent of the women), we are even the more happy that we can help to promote education in Ethiopia with the help of our donors.

All in all, the Ethiopian government has been able, with the help of international sponsors and organizations like humedica, to initiate and take important steps against illiteracy during the past years. Nowadays, 96 per cent of all girls and boys attend elementary school.

And yet more support is definitely needed. Only 46 per cent of all students finish the first years of their potential educational career. Only one third of them receive secondary education and only 3.6 per cent attend any kind of vocational or academic training.

humedica-coordinator Steven Hofmann was given the honour of cutting the traditional New Year’s bread. Photo: humedica.

This is why one of the main concerns of the family sponsorship programs is to make education possible. Apart from the provision of school material, this includes specific support like tutoring programs in the afternoon and during the summer holidays. Of particular importance is also the individual personal development of each child that we promote by arranging extra free-time activities.

One main example for that is soccer, which is very popular in Ethiopia. But we also offer them opportunities to learn to play a musical instrument, take part in art lessons or cultivate fruit and vegetables in our project garden.

We are very happy that we can contribute to reducing poverty in Ethiopia by showing people ways out of poverty and accompanying them on their way. We are convinced that education is the key to a better future. Thank you so much for your help.”

      humedica e. V.
      Reference „Family Sponsorship Programme
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

      SWIFT-Code: BYLA DE M1 KFB
      IBAN: DE35734500000000004747

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