Reported by Dereje Girma
DTS Project Manager/Teacher
The current situation in Akako village is surprisingly different from what it was one to two months ago. The regional government announced the establishment of a big city surrounding the existing capital city of the country, Addis Ababa. The newly established city is four times bigger than Addis Ababa in size. This city is trying to provide infrastructure to the community as a to connect the all places under its administration. The city administration also started to check out the legality of the houses built in the area as it took office. After some investigation, they announced that half of all the houses in our village are illegal. With this, all, apart from indigenous persons had to vacate the area, and their houses demolished by the city administration. As a result, about 60% of the people who lived here had to flee.
Our school which directly depends on the number of people in the village suffered as a result. We started the new school year with 96 students. Now, more than half the students in our school had to leave with their parents. This situation has put a huge pressure both on the owner and the teachers in the school. Three teachers including myself had to become redundant for the school to be able to afford running. I voluntarily stepped down as staff at the school to give other teachers the chance to continue their job and to feed their children. Another two teachers’ contracts also had to be terminated.
Update on the DTS project in light of our current situation.
Our DTS project was not spared from the problem that happened in the city. Before this, we had two afterschool classrooms, twenty students in each. One section for little ones i.e., from the age of 6 to 9; and the other section for students from the age of 10 to 15. Due to the demolishment of their homes, we lost many students. Even though this situation affected both the formal school and our project we were still able to continue our project and had 30 children who attended. At the moment we are running the DTS project with three workers included myself, and we have special support from Miss Sayuri Yumoto whilst she is here for two months. I continue to support the formal school during my free time at my own cost, without salary.
Our plan for this summer is to keep the project going with two sections as mentioned above. We are hoping to get more students because students are free from formal school and mostly spend their time staying at home. Other students who were not able to join our after-school project may be able to join us this time. We are already receiving questions from many parents and children who wants to join our project from July onwards. The focus during the summer class is Math, English and Art. Students participate and learn more than they do in their formal education. Entertaining the children is also important during this time for students have been focusing the whole year on education. Our project and program also incorporates fun and enjoyable activities alongside teaching.
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