Ethiopia: An “assault on the senses”

Staff from Honiton Community College reflect on their experiences during a recent trip to Ethiopia.

It was an “assault on the senses and the emotions” for members of staff from Honiton Community College who took part in an experience of a lifetime in Ethiopia.

Principal Glenn Smith and PE teacher Andy Taylor spent a week in Ethiopia to see what life was like for students and teachers at Shashemene Secondary School.

Mr Smith said: “Ethiopia was an assault on the senses and on the emotions. There will be images etched on my memory forever.

“It was certainly, to a degree, what I expected in that I realised before I went that they would not have the facilities we have. But, I was not aware of how limited their resources were. It was a real reality check for me.”

The college was one of 15 schools chosen to participate in the International Inspiration Partnership Programme, which uses sport, PE, and play to transform the lives of children and young people in schools and communities across the world, particularly in developing countries.

UK Sport International Inspiration, in partnership with the British Council and UNICEF, help deliver the programme.

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During their visit, Mr Smith and Mr Taylor observed lessons and also visited primary schools including one of the area’s first special needs schools.

Mr Taylor added: “The big difference is the teaching conditions, facilities and resources. The classrooms were very bare and basic but the standard of education was very good. The visit was a real eye opener to how some people live their lives, but I was reassured by how happy people were.”

Mr Smith was overwhelmed by the children’s enthusiasm for education and premiership football. He said: “It was the enthusiasm that emanated from every child you met. They see education as a vehicle to enable them to have a better life.”

Since returning to the UK Mr Smith has been holding assemblies to share his experiences with students at the college.

He added: “I have spoken to my students in assembly and said what everyone must take away with them is how privileged we are to have a first class education provided for us. We must all remember how fortunate that makes us.”

“It has made me realise how fortunate we are and how important it is for us to share not just our wealth but share our experience with developing countries and give them a leg up.

The college is keen to continue developing its partnership with the Shashemene School and is going to raise funds to help provide sports equipment for the school.

Teaching staff from the Shashemene School visited the college last week.