Empress Mentewab School

National Curriculum Subjects

According to the Amhara State's Standard of Education, Grades 1 to 4 should be taught five main subjects:

Environmental Science
Physical Education (PE)

In addition, primary schools are encouraged to have a programme for co-curricular activities outside the classroom to support classroom learning and enrich pupils' knowledge.


Both Kate and Asenake teach the Amharic fidel. Because the school currently has insufficient funds to enable Kate to recruit an Ethiopian teacher, she has make an arrangment with Mr Yimam, the Director of Dib Bahir Elementary School, for a teacher of Amharic to give lessons to the Grade 1s at Empress Mentewab School three times a week, beginning in December 2012. In return, Kate will give training to the teachers at the Elementary School on teaching English.

"I am very happy about the co-operation between us," says Kate. "The children in both schools will benefit from this."

Asenake teaches children to recite the Amharic fidel
Asenake teaches children to recite the Amharic fidel


Kate talks to all classes in English so they begin to learn English expressions such as "line up" and "wash your hands" and "sit down" from Playgroup upwards.

The Grade 1 class has a range of abilities, from those children who are still learning to form the letters of the alphabet (including three lefthanded boys) up to those who can read and write. Four of the Grade 1s already keep diaries in English.

Kate uses various readers sent by supporters, and in particular the Ladybird Keywords 'Jane and Peter' books, which have proved popular with the children because of the attractive illustrations that open a door into another world. Kate knows of no Ethiopian culturally-relevant equivalent to the Ladybird Keywords series, but hopes to write one herself before too long. See key [139304] doesn't existINITIATIVES.

Fiction and non-fiction books in English are available for children on a shelf in their classroom. When she can, Kate gives schoolchildren gifts of books to take home, to encourage them to develop a habit of reading even when they are not in school.

girl reading at home
girl reading at home


The Grade 1s learn all the numbers in Amharic and English. Using an abacus and counting rods, they do addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

They already know various shapes and Kate introduces simple Geometry.

counting rods donated by Link Ethiopia
counting rods donated by Link Ethiopia



Kate teaches the Grades 1s about continents and countries, and the peoples and animals that inhabit them. She makes use of a globe (purchased in Addis Ababa), an Atlas (donated by the Scottish charity, Books Abroad) and a few of Sir David Attenborough's BBC nature programmes on DVD (donated by supporters). The children also learn about the geography of Ethiopia, and the Amhara State in particular.

Kate introduces very basic biology, chemistry and physics.



Asenake was in the army during the 17-year civil war (1974-91) - see his army photograph at the foot of ABOUT KATE - and now, instead of drilling soldiers, he takes the Grade 1s through gymnastic exercises first thing each morning, before it becomes hot. The children roll across a straw mattress and practise balancing by walking along a tree trunk. Other exercises include jumping, bending, twisting and stretching.

Not having mats at present, Kate does standing yoga exercises with the children.

The schoolchildren get additional exercise from playing traditional Ethiopian games.

With an extensive meadow adjacent to the school, games of football are played with great enthusiasm.



Kate plans to set up the following after-school clubs for Grade 1:

Eskista Club (for traditional Ethiopian singing and dancing)
Art and Crafts Club
Drama Club
Worldwide Penfriends Club*

These clubs will begin in December 2012. Others will be set up as time and resources allow.

* if you know a seven-year-old child who would like to correspond by post with a Grade 1 pupil at Empress Mentewab School, please Contact Kate.