A Preschool for 450 Children

Last year, Early Childhood Education Ethiopia, started building a community preschool in Debre Tabor, Ethiopia to serve 450 children ages 3-7 years old. Currently, there are more age-eligible children out of preschool than in school in Ethiopia. Often, when the opportunity to attend an early learning program is available, children are faced with preschool classrooms that are overcrowded with a ratio of 1 teacher to 100 children, lacking basic instructional resources or amenities for teachers and students.

No alt text provided for this imageCurrent Gaffat Preschool Program

Early Childhood Education Ethiopia’s (ECEE) mission is to provide high-quality, developmentally appropriate early learning programs in unserved and underserved rural communities throughout Ethiopia. Understanding children’s social, emotional, linguistic, and cognitive development are molded through reciprocal interactions as they engage with those in their environment during the early years, specifically between the ages of birth to 6, the organization has prioritized and integrated the community’s cultural wealth in every aspect, from current construction typology to future curricular and instructional activities.

Local Community Partnership

For several years now, members of the ECEE team in partnership with Debre Tabor University‘s faculty members, Dr. Abraham Melkie and Ato Getachew Walelign, along with community representatives, elders, school administrators, teachers, and parents have been in several virtual and in-person meetings

No alt text provided for this imageAto Mulualem (Gaffat Elementary Principal) and community members

discussions, and dialogues to fully incorporate the local voice in not only the school building but any reforms suggested by ECEE. It is the organization’s foundational belief that those most affected by the challenge are bearers of the soundest solutions.

The Architects behind Gaffat Community Preschool

No alt text provided for this imagePreschool Construction Site

It was important for ECEE to employ local talent and showcase to the world how much the youth in Africa has to offer when given the opportunity and trust in their knowledge. Betelhem T. Eshete and Yonatan C. Enawgaw, are two exceptionally talented young architects who brought the Gojo Bet design celebrating Ethiopia’s traditional housing system found spread across rural Ethiopia to existence. Leveraging their education, experience, and knowledge of indigenous resources including architectural innovation, they continue to advance and advocate for sustainable solutions in both material selection and technology while incorporating play-based spaces both indoors and outdoors in their design strategies. Yisehak Shata, PE, from our partners at STEM Synergy has been an instrumental supporter and counsel on all efforts related to construction and specifically broadening our early conceptual framework regarding sustainability, one that has the potential to change how early childhood construction moves forward in the context of Ethiopia.

ECEE’s Gaffat Community Preschool is shaping up to change the landscape of how we educate and provide access to young children coming from underserved communities in rural areas. Through a systems approach, that includes a PK-16 model, the organization’s effort will meet the immediate and long-term needs of children while reducing the number of children out of preschool in Ethiopia.

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Written by Ethiotime1

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