Thursday, February 13, 2014

School Children

With a population estimated at 90,000,000 Ethiopia faces some daunting challenges as it tries to develop a viable economy. A key element will be the delivery of education to as many children as possible. Literacy rates continue to be low and there seem to be a lot of kids working in agriculture or on the streets helping their families by basic commerce, selling wares or shining shoes (they even wash running shoes).

Bahir Dar is a college town and one can see students mingling in the market area. As in Sudan, a school uniform is standard. The primary schools are basic structures with relatively meagre resources. Hence, the request for pens and books is understandable. The excitement and exuberance of youth is evident in the students who choose to engage foreigners.

My assumption is that the aspirations of these youngsters hinge on the pursuit of higher education. As in the west, there seem to be many underemployed graduates and yet their opportunities are wider with a command of English and rudimentary technical skills. The curiosity is there and some of them have an infectious enthusiasm. Some will migrate to America, Australia, Canada or Europe for economic advantage.

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