Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

A Day in the Life Of

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

A Day in the Life Of

Article excerpt

Equipment may be in short supply at this art teacher's Ethiopian village school, but who needs glue when your class is filled with resourceful, eager children and surrounded by 'sticky plants'?

I am woken at 5.45am, when the rooster gives his morning call. I put some water in a pan on the kerosene stove, to make coffee, then walk across the farmyard to the pit toilet.

By 6.30am I begin the half-mile walk to school, which is in a nearby village. The locals, with their donkeys laden with heavy loads, are on their way there, too. I'm always amazed at what I see during my walk to school; today it is seven camels in a lorry.

I am greeted along the way by students and other children in the village, arriving at school at 7am. At least 500 children are already there: they have come early to ensure they get a cup of tea and bread roll. Most walk - some from as far as five miles away. They won't have had any breakfast, so I thank God for the food programme that was set up last year.

I am the homeroom teacher for the second grade and teach art to the whole school, with students aged between 6 and 12. Some here don't start school until they are 10, and some local children do not attend school at all, but we are doing all we can to overcome this.

When the hand bell rings, students respond immediately by lining up in grade order and, amazingly, in height order. Then the Ethiopian flag is raised and the national anthem sung.

As the students move in an orderly fashion to their home rooms, I hear them greeting: "Good morning, Sister Deirdre." As I enter my classroom, I greet my students with the exultation "Thanks be to God we are all here this morning".

I ask if everyone has had breakfast, as a few students arrive late. Some can't speak up as they are too weary and hungry, but others speak on their behalf and I take them to the food shed. …

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