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How we helped a school move from 54th to 2nd place out of 57 schools

The Costa Foundation first became aware of Adame Yirgachefe Second Cycle School in January 2011 and, following a visit to the school in March that year, the trustees found the school to be in a dreadful state. The building structure was poor and up to 90 children were crammed into each classroom.

Adame Yirgachefe is a very impoverished community and at least 50% of the children in 2011 had no shoes. The classrooms had dirt floors which is a serious risk to children with no shoes. Dust fleas in the earth attack the soles of their feet which can leave them crippled.

The classrooms were made out of sticks and mud and were in poor condition with leaking rooves, no windows, limited furniture and hardly any text books. The school was in such poor shape that there were very few teachers present and of those there, at least three had never been to school themselves. There was no fresh water within 3 miles of the school and no electricity.

Understandably the school was not performing well in the regional league tables. Teachers were not adequately trained and children were in overcrowded classrooms and in conditions not conducive to a good learning experience. The school came 54th out of 57 schools in the regional league table in 2011.

Working closely with the community and Local Education Authority, and with the skilled guidance of Costa Foundation Ethiopian Country Director Mesay Kassaye, a plan was put in place. We demolished the old and unstable classrooms and built six new classrooms and a library all complete with new furniture and over 2,500 text books.

The new school also has fresh water on site, electricity, sports kits and equipment for the students to use in extra-curricular lessons.

Other highlights

The new school opened in October 2011 and has been wonderfully received by the children, parents and teachers.

• The children have extracurricular lessons run by teachers on a voluntary basis and with team leaders from among the students (some aged 10). The lessons are in HIV and AIDS awareness, gender, environment, sports and presentation skills. Parents also attend these lessons

• Litter is now collected and taken to landfill for the first time (it used to be just dumped on the side of the road). This is an initiative started by the children through the use of waste baskets at the school

• The school has a full complement of teachers and even a waiting list of teachers keen to work at the school

• All of the teachers at the school now have degrees in teacher training

• 30% of the teachers are female (versus 10% previously)

• Student drop-out rate reduced from 35% to 5% in 2012