Village School

Etsubdink Legesse (Ethiopian, b. 1968)
Ink and pigment on parchment
Sheet : 11 7/8 x 16 3/4 in. (30.16 x 42.55 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Neal and Elizabeth Sobania
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For many centuries, the village church school, taught by a priest or monk, was the only source of education in Ethiopia. In these schools, children first learned through constant repetition the basic characters of Ge’ez, the ecclesiastical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Later they learned to read, write and chant the Psalms. The first chapter of the First Epistle of John was the text used by children to learn how to read. For most children this was the end of their education, although some boys continued to study theology and liturgical music on the path to becoming a deacon or priest. Opportunities for education have expanded since the early 20th century with the establishment of non-church public and private schools, but economic status and gender still play a large role in determining who receives schooling in Ethiopia.

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