Schools; they are indeed a large focus of what Blessing the Children is involved in. As you read through the information about the schools there are a few different terms we use that may become confusing. BCI Academy is the umbrella term that we use. This term incorporates both the DZ Campus and the Bethlehem School. Whereas the names DZ Campus and Bethlehem School refer to an individual school location.
Seeing the need for quality education, we decided to do something about it! We started construction of the DZ Campus in January 2009. Our short term missionaries assisted in building the school until it was completed in the fall of 2013. The school was constructed in three phases as money permitted. The one story ‘u’ shaped building is constructed of cement and brick. The electricity was brought in early 2014. We have figured out that a school is never finished!
In 2013, located out the back gate of the DZ Campus, and a walk across the road was a wonderful gated three-room complex that came on the market. It meant, with the close location to the already functioning DZ Campus, that the kids had access to the playground, the computer lab, the running water, and electricity, as well as the cafeteria. It was a no-brainer decision to turn the complex into the kindergarten premises and we had the surprise anonymous and generous donation to buy the place! How richly the Lord provides!
Over the course of the following year, we had the privilege of having a few different Mission teams come and liven up the place, make it feel more welcoming and enticing for young children to learn. This included painting, putting in western bathrooms and a storage water tank. Thank-you to all those who assisted us in this! You have impacted the learning experience of so many children!
The Kindergarten has enrolled on average 60 children at the DZ Campus, starting at age 4. Kindergarten is an all-day event where the learning of numbers, of the alphabet, colours, and shapes are very common. Also, just like the elementary and middle school age kids, our Feeding Program is incorporated at the school. Sponsor children are given lunch through a cafeteria style format. Lunch may include injera (the local flatbread), rice or pasta with sauce. Many children also get their first chance to hold a book in their hands due to the underprivileged nature many of the children come from. In Ethiopian education culture, there is no pre-school, instead, it is entitled Kindergarten 1, 2, and 3 with each student doing three years of kindergarten. It is particularly peaceful at the kindergarten room if you happen to visit in the early afternoon where it is normal to see the children taking a nap!
We are so thankful for the staff that so lovingly guide the children in kindergarten. We have noticed over the years, that students coming from our KG program enter grade 1 with a higher standard compared to those of other schools and it could not happen without our dedicated staff! Just like any other school in Canada, teachers are disciplining bad behavior, working with different personalities, encouraging ambitious and melancholy students. Across the globe it seems, teachers are continually encouraging a diverse student body to impact this world for the better. We are truly grateful for your dedication!
Elementary and Middle School
DZ Campus houses about 400 students from Grade 1-8; who consist of some sponsorship program children and community children. The community children pay school fees to come to the school while the sponsored children fees are paid through their sponsors. Thank you to all the sponsors! Our class size is approximately half the size of the government school. Our intention is to try and keep it minimal.
A day at Ethiopian school is very similar to that of a day spent in a Canadian school. Many children will ride the bus, those who are near the school will walk. As kids arrive at school there will be a time to play and recess will be held throughout the day. There are a variety of school subjects such as English, Amharic (the local language), reading and writing, math, science, civic studies, computer class and of course many children’s favorite: gym class. Much of the time you will the children playing soccer!
Another element that is incorporated into our schools if our Feeding Program. For all those who are underprivileged, lunch is provided through the sponsorship program for all those that attend. Lunch could include injera (local flatbread), with a spicy sauce, it could be pasta or rice with a sauce. We are very thankful for the lunch ladies who work so very hard to feed hundreds of kids each day for lunch.
All of our school staff are Ethiopian University graduates that hold either diplomas or degrees in Education. We have approximately 25 staff members. We would love to have a staff room for our teachers as we think they deserve to have a comfortable place to relax!
We also have a computer lab which started in 2015 and students are learning computer skills. The one thing the school lacks for now is a proper science lab and that will be the next project that is taken on.
It’s our goal to produce the best-educated young adults possible and to send them forth into the world with purpose and a challenge to make a difference in their country.
Teachers and staff pour themselves into these previously hopeless lives while pointing the children to Jesus all the while. The students are transformed into dedicated, hope-filled, contributing members of society – fully equipped to fulfill their God-given destiny.