Giorgis School, Soddo, Ethiopia

The students of an eighth grade class (14-15 years old) present their school and their city, Soddo, 320km southwest of Addis-Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.


Ethiopia is a mountainous country in Eastern Africa.  It is twice the size of France and has a population of 85 million.  The capital, Addis-Abeba is at an altitude of 2300m.  The majority of Ethiopians live by farming.  We also have a lot of cows because we eat a lot of meat.

Our official language is Amharic.  The alphabet is very different from yours.  It has over 300 characters.  At school most of our classes are in English. 

Our time system and calendar are also different.  Our day starts when the sun rises.  For you it is 6 a.m. but for us it is midnight.  Don't be surprised if someone invites you to lunch at 6 a.m. because for you it will already be noon.  For us the year starts on September 11 and we are still in 2002. 

Another difference, we don't have a family (last) name.  For a second name we use the first name of our father. 

Our city, Soddo, has around 100 000 inhabitants.  There is electricity and running water but several houses share the same tap and it often doesn't work.

In our school there are more than 2000 students.  Today, the majority of students go to school and when we get home we go help work in the fields. 

We go to school Monday to Saturday.  Since there are so many of us, more than 100 per class, we are divided into two groups.  Some go to school in the morning from 8 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. and the others go in the afternoon, from 12:30 p.m. until 5:15 p.m.  We change each month.  Of course it is not the same teachers who work all day. 

Our teachers

Here primary school starts at 7 years old.  This elementary school lasts 8 years then we go to high school for two years.  Finally, if you pass the exam you can go to preparatory school which prepares you for entry into university.

Here we find learning difficult because, even though the classes are split, there are so many of us and we don't have enough desks and chairs for all the students.  As well, those who have class in the afternoon are more distracted and agitated (their teachers as well!).

And you?  What is a typical day like?  Do you go to school all day?

If one day you come to Ethiopia we would be happy to show you the wonders of our country.  In the meantime, we can always write. 



My name is Messiech Mussa.  I am 15 years old and in Grade 8.  I live in a neighborhood of Soddo that is 10 minutes from school.  In the afternoon I help my parents and do my homework.

My name is Atenafu Abate.  I am 14 years old and I am in the same class as my friend.  I live on a farm.  In the morning I walk an hour and a half to go to school.  When I get home I help my parents do various work in the fields.

What sport or activity do you do outside of school?
Messiech:  I really like running (Ethiopians are great long distance runners, the most well known is Haïlé Gebresellasié, multiple Olympic gold medal winner).
Atenafu: Athletics, especially long jump.

What is your favorite food?
Messiech: Porridge.
Atenafu: Tibbs (meat, often mutton, served on a hot dish with onions and hot pepper and eaten with injera, the national flatbread made of teff flour, a grain grown in Ethiopia).

What is your favorite game?
Messiech: At school we sometimes play basketball.
Atenafu: Running races with friends.

What is your favorite animal?
Messiech: Cat.
Atenafu: Lion, I would really like to meet one. 

What subject do you prefer? 
Messiech: Biology and Chemistry.
Atenafu: Biology and Physics.

What do you want to be when you grow up? 
Messiech: Doctor.
Atenafu: Manager.

If you are interested in contacting us you can write us at:

Soddo Giorgis Primary School
P.O Box 021
C/O Ribka Falta
Wolaita Zone

You can also contact Adeline and Olivier.
We are waiting for your letters and pictures. 



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