Since women in Ethiopia traditionally are resposible for house and field work, mothers have no time to provide their children an elementary education. Many mothers cannot read or write themselves. This tradition of minimal education must end. A great number of African children must work hard at home or in the fields and have no access to playful learning. They are therefore insufficiently prepared for school attendance later on and have greater difficulty in school – if they have the opportunity to go to school at all. Kindergartens are a beginning here.
In recent years, the city of Adigrat, located in the northernmost part of Ethiopia on the border to Eritrea, has experienced an enormous increase in population. The region is still suffering from the consequences of war with Eritrea, which has deprived many families of their fathers, or has even made orphans of the children. The number of street children has increased correspondingly. Adequate supervision on the part of state kindergartens is not guaranteed in this city that is growing by leaps and bounds.
Ethiopian children learn through accompanying their mothers everywhere in the first years of life. They are therefore very far in early childhood development. In the period between 3 and 6 years, however, there is often a break in development as children are often left to themselves at this age or even need to get involved in the household chores or work in the fields.
The association’s goal is to provide kindergarten-age children, particularly from underprivileged families, with a better start in life by means of an opportunity to attend kindergarten on a regular basis. To accomplish this, Ethiopia’s specific problems must be taken into consideration.
It is important to remember that a kindergarten is not only important for children, but also for their mothers.
"Kindergartens should be established in the communities to relieve women and give them time to earn money for their families."
(Berliner Missionswerk 2008)
In the facility, children will acquire social ccompetences, develop their creativity and achieve preschool general knowledge as well as basic English. In this way, beginning school is made easier, and the children’s educational chances are thereby increased.
The kindergarten in Adigrat opened its doors in December 2012 and 110 children have attended the education facility since September 2013. The Social Departement of the city of Adigrat chose which children were able to attend the kindergarten along with the Womens Affair Departement in accordance with the criteria of “Poorest of the poor”.
All children are able to attend the kindergarten free of charge and the costs involved in running the facility are financed by personal sponsors from Germany.
The kindergarten is now already running in its 6th year and again, this time, we meet 110 happy, healthy and well-fed children. 37 of them will soon say goodbye in a festive ceremony and head off to school.
Particularly positive is the extraordinary team spirit among the employees where everyone helps everyone else no matter what the task in hand. The team makes the impression of being a friendly community. And at the traditional staff meeting several employees speak of their belonging to an AV family of sorts. This great atmosphere naturally has an extremely positive effect on the work. In addition, the kindergarten teachers are becoming increasingly creative and are developing their own ideas for engaging the children, all of which go far beyond the initial “front of class” technique.
The architectural firm Ottmann Architekten based in Munich designed a purpose-built building that matches the design of the surrounding buildings and consists of two houses located opposite each other. In the first wing of the building, there are four group rooms, one small library and the office. The second building situated opposite holds the dining room, the bedroom, the sickroom, the kitchen and the volunteer room. The sinks and toilets are located next to this building.
All the furniture and furnishings have been manufactured by local workshops in an attempt to support the businesses in Adigrat.
The staff consists of:
- one manager
- one accountant
- three kindergarten teachers and four assistants
- one cook
- one cleaning lady
- three guards (who alternate in 8 hour shifts)
The children get two warm, healthy and varied meals during the day.
The kindergarten starts at 8am and can be attended until 4:30pm.