The Suke school is located further up the road from the Kumure school. It is close to the Suke farm, and higher up the hills. Since completing the Kurume school in 2018, Tesfaye has shifted his attention to the village of Suke: the second phase of the Suke Quto School Project.
“An educated person will grow, and grow the country”, says one of the priests who is part of the Suke school committee. Like the priest, many of the community members had a deep desire to see a good school established for their children.
The community’s need for a school was answered when the current school was established in 2003 with just one teacher for 200 students and a thatched roof, mud-walled classroom. The school moved to its current location a year later.
Community members raised money and helped build the first teachers’ quarters on the premises, using traditional wood and mud building methods. The first blocks of classrooms in the school were also built with traditional mud walls and floors.
While this is a sturdy and proven building method, rooms tend to have fewer windows and can be dark inside. In addition, the dirt used to build the walls – and especially the floors – eventually starts getting kicked up into the air, making it difficult to stay in the room, particularly when each room holds over 80 children.
Ato Tesfaye, the owner of the Suke farm, initially helped the school with a cement floor in the existing block. This helped with some of the cleanliness issues. However, the school has grown quite a lot in the years since it began. It now caters to 950 students from six kebeles (neighborhoods) with the help of 13 teachers, two of whom are paid by the community.
Due to the lack of classrooms, students study in shifts. The need for new classrooms is very apparent, and something that is being addressed with the construction of two new blocks of classrooms on the school premises.
The new classrooms are in line with the Ethiopian government’s regulations and construction is well underway and should be finished by the end of 2020. In addition to the three blocks of classrooms, a new set of toilets is also being built on the premises.
The Suke school community is thrilled that the new, modern classrooms are being built at the school. However, there is still a lot that remains to be done. The school has classes from grade one to grade eight.
Anyone who wants to pursue their education beyond grade eight faces many challenges. At the least, they will have to walk by foot many miles to the nearest high school. This is particularly challenging for young girls who want to continue their studies.
The other option is to rent a small place to live near the high school. Again, this is financially challenging for parents. As a result, many of the school’s students end up going back to work on their parents’ farms after they complete eighth grade.
The community’s desire is for the Suke school to grow into a high school. The two new blocks of classrooms are a big step in this direction as they help the school meet some of the requirements for a high school.
Other, more immediate needs, include: