Blue Nile Gorge

Yesterday we went to the Ministry of Education office and met with the head of education to discuss the obstacles faced by primary school teachers in the region. He told us about the low resources for teacher training, lack of books, supplies, classroom overcrowding etc. By now the group is familiar with these challenges. And although we've also become familiar with the passion of Ethiopians, what impressed us most was his energy, vision, intelligence and drive to turn the situation around. He told us of the great successes in the region to set up schools, satellite classrooms and alternative classrooms. This was a very impressive man making a big impact in his region in his 6th year on the job. We left feeling that inspite of the difficulties this man could, and would, make a difference. He encouraged Canadians to challenge our government to increase overseas development assisstance and to forget the politicians, the bureaucrats and the teachers.... To him it was all about the children and the positive future of the country that can only be attained by creating an educated generation.

The long drive from Bahir Dar to Addis Ababa yesterday took us through the stunning Blue Nile Gorge - a descent of 1.5 kilometers and back up again - like driving through the Grand Canyon. Our final leg of the day's journey was dramatized by a gorgeous pink sky and setting sun.

- Ann Speak

Despite the magnificent scenery, my favourite memory of today will be the smiling faces and waves of the chilren as we passed. Whether they were working in the fields tending thier herds or walking to school, they always smiled and waved. They are open, eager to greet us and pround. As the beureau Chief of the Amhara District of Education told us, we must focus on what is best for the children. With over 99% of children 7 years of age and over now enrolled in school, the quantity side of Educton for All has been achieved. The challenge now is the quality - for urban and rural kids (some rural kids walk 3 km each way to school) for all languages in this country. We must give them a hand up - not a hand out. More reading rooms  with more and appropriate books this is a big challenge but the key to quality in education.
- Margaret Casey