Students at rural schools face difficulties over and above students in urban areas; The journey to school is likely to be longer and the facilities at school poorer. Rural teachers are, on average, less qualified and there is a higher turnover of staff. Rural students are more likely to drop out of school early and get worse grades. For these reasons, it is a priority to work closely with rural schools.
Rural schools often need more support to fund new classroom buildings and maintain existing buildings. Many rural schools are set up as ‘satellite schools’ of urban schools with the community raising funds for one classroom which is then run under the management of the existing schools. That means that many schools can only offer Grade 1 or Grade 1 and 2 with students choosing between walking miles to a new school or simply dropping out of the education system all together.
Link Ethiopia aims to build 20 new classrooms in rural schools, focusing on schools which cannot yet offer all grades. The classrooms will offer a comfortable space for lessons and will allow students at-risk-of-dropping-out to attend a local school. By being harder to access rural schools often miss out on a range of other resources that urban schools have more straightforward access to, and so we are finding innovative solutions to expand our projects to remote rural areas.
We will identify 20 rural schools across two regions who are most in need of new improvements. Each school project will begin with a stakeholder meeting to discuss the responsibilities of Link Ethiopia, school management, parents and students in improving the schools.
Link Ethiopia has 20 years of expertise on school improvements, both in physical infrastructure and in ‘soft’ educational projects, and we want to focus that expertise on rural schools. We construct classrooms using both traditional materials (mud and wood) as well as concrete. Schools will also be able to apply for small grants from a maintenance fund. Amongst other projects we are also particularly looking to bring our libraries and literacy projects to rural schools.
What stage are we at?
Our pilot Rural Excellence project was completed in 2015: A new classroom built in Gendit school in Magsegnit, Gondar which will allow the school to add another Grade in 2016-17. The classroom is constructed from mud and wood and has benefited from several visits from a volunteer architect from the UK. She made several structual improvements to the design, including:
- suggesting that we should plaster wood and mud buildings in cement as standard as it significantly increases the life of classrooms
- advising the use of wooden cross beams to stop the classroom leaning, a common problem with traditional buildings
- Using metal shutters allowing the classrooms to be light in the day and secure at night.
These improvements have already been incorporated into current projects and we hope that the Rural Excellence project will generate further design improvements.
Our donkey library has now been running for 4 years and this year was the first year that rural school were involved in out libraries and literacy projects.
What can your money do?
- £20 Pays for a years’ supply of chalk
- £40 Buys a blackboard for a classroom
- £70 Buys a combined chair and writing desk
- £400 Buys the eucalyptus beams for a mud and wood classroom
- £800 Pays for corrugated iron for two classrooms
Fund a programme
Link Ethiopia’s Donkey Libraries bring reading, learning and fun to rural children who wouldn’t otherwise be able to access books. A donkey carries pallets of books from school to school under the guidance of a trained donkey librarian, lending relevant and engaging textbooks and fiction, and helping students with their reading. £1,750 will cover the set-up and running costs of a new Donkey Library for two years, letting 1,000 rural children learn, study and enjoy reading.
Build a classroom
Rural students are underserved by local schools. Often rural schools only provide one or two grades and then they have to walk several miles to the near school; many will stop going to school all together. This project would provide two concrete plastered wood classrooms to extend a rural school.
Currently, Link Ethiopia can only work with the most accessible schools. Because we rely on public transport, it can take 4 hours to travel to rural schools in our catchment area and many schools would require staff to make an over night stop for something as simple as a project visit. Unfortunately the most difficult to reach schools are also the most in need.