Learning in a different language

In our last post you heard about the alternate basic education (ABE) centre, which is the only educational facility for children living in Gelan Idero. This month, we’re introducing you to Fekadu Dabi Haile – an enthusiastic, 29-year-old teacher at the ABE Centre in Gelan Idero since it opened in 2005.

Fekadu is one of five teachers who work at the ABE centre.  As salary, he receives only a transport allowance. “They call it a transport allowance, but their employment is more like volunteer work. They are not officially hired, and so do not receive the benefits regular employees would get,” said Gebriel Galatis, Canadian Feed The Children’s Country Representative for Ethiopia.

With 250 students enrolled at the centre and five teachers, each teacher is responsible for approximately 50 students.  Fekadu teaches English, math, environmental science and Amharic.  He’s also an active community member who helps to identify the community’s most marginalized children and help them receive an education. Since starting work with the ABE centre, he has successfully assisted more than 2,000 children living in impoverished circumstances to attend school and receive basic education.

“Teaching these young children is my greatest satisfaction in life, and I dream of the success this education is going to bring to them in the future,” he said.

Fekadu is a high school graduate and is trained in classroom management, continuous assessment, managing the behaviour of maladjusted children and alternative disciplinary methods. He hopes to one day pursue a teacher training certificate at a higher education level.

When asked what one of the major challenges facing the children that attend the ABE Centre in Gelan Idero is, Fekadu explains that it is the language barrier the children face. Amharic – Ethiopia’s national language – is taught and is also the language used for teaching all subjects. “In Gelan Idero, the people speak Afan Oromo, and so it takes greater effort to teach the children their subjects in a language that is not familiar to them,” Fekadu said.

While it may be difficult at first for the children to learn in a different language, “Amharic immersion” in fact puts students on the path to success as they will be equipped with the skills they need to excel in the formal education system.


Do you or your children have any experience learning in a second language?