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overlooking Awash River

Busy times in the VSO world.  It had been ingrained into my mind not to expect things to move quickly.  The message was that if volunteers spent the first half of a placement cultivating trust so that something could be accomplished in the second half then that placement could be considered a success.  But things here move along at quite a good clip.

On the College ELIC (English Language Improvement Centre) front, I have created a levelling system.  This consists of a baseline speaking test, and an analysis sheet to use in assigning students to a level.  This allows for students to join an English conversation class that is appropriate to their level.  It also gives students the opportunity to see which skills they need to work on in order to improve their English.  The results have been digitally stored in student profiles and will be kept on the ELIC computer.  In this way, College staff will be able to continue utilising the system after my departure.  This is capacity-building in the Ethiopian education sector.

At the moment, workshops run by ELIC are only available to language majors.   The plan is to expand the availability of ELIC workshops to all departments by using the same levelling system.   A science student will be able to attend ELIC workshops and will have a better notion of how the ELIC services can be of benefit.  Students will be able to choose whether to attend a Basic, Pre-Intermediate or Intermediate ELIC class or workshop based on a level of achievement received after completing the baseline test.  The College is excited to expand the services of ELIC to students from the various departments.  Installing this system will exponentially expand the number of students that receive help from the centre.

In addition to coordinating the ELIC at the College, I have begun managing a project funded by the Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission to build a Girls’ toilet and improve the library infrastructure at a local primary school.  This week I met with local education officials to select an appropriate school.  We visited the school to ensure there was space for a toilet and to have a look at the library facilities.  The principal signed on for the scheme.  Next week I will be in Addis Ababa for an ELIC conference and will deliver the paperwork to the VSO Programme Office in order to release the funds.  Then I will monitor the progress of the project, collect receipts and write a report for the funding organisation.  The toilet and the library should be completed by the summer.

location of new toilet

library to be upgraded

library study area

Asaita College of Teacher Education is also working with some NGO’s.  One is called the Development Expertise Centre from Holland.  It is funding a 5 year project to train teachers in student-centred pedagogy.  The College will be supporting teachers in its cluster to help them gain proficiency in student-centred pedagogy.  My role as Cluster / In-service Trainer will be to assist the teachers with taking a student-centred approach to learning.

Finally, I take part in the College’s Higher Diploma Programme.  This course is a prerequisite for all teacher trainers at colleges and universities throughout Ethiopia.  It can be summarised as a crash course in Western pedagogy, and would be familiar territory for any teacher.  The first time the programme ran here it was facilitated by a VSO volunteer, but then one of the course graduates took over as facilitator.  I attend mainly because it is a good way to get to know the teaching staff at the College.  Small group work is how the course runs, and there is lots of opportunity for good professional discussions about teaching with some really committed instructors.  Sometimes I facilitate a section of the module, but the intangible ‘building professional relationships’ seems to benefit the most.

Higher Diploma Programme participants engaging in some active learning

This wraps up my update.  Thank you to everyone that has sponsored my work here.  I believe that the fundraising is 72% complete.  If you feel like you can contribute, please click on ‘Brian’s Fundraising Page’ in the right hand tool bar.  If you could ‘Share’ this blog on Facebook, that would be appreciated also.  Trying to spread the word about the type of work being done in Ethiopia is part of my mandate.

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