French-Ethiopian school Guebre Mariam Taking a fresh start

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Ethiopa is currently undergoing profound transformation, including in its capital Addis-Ababa: the lycée Guebre Mariam obviously needs to adapt to these changes if it wants to continue providing his students with first-class education. We are just remaining faithful to what we inherited from the preceding generations. The lycée Guebre Mariam has been teaching students from all around the world for more than 70 years: it has allowed these students to evolve in a French-Ethiopian environment and curriculum, to widen their horizon, to prepare their future achievements, both personal and professional. Our high school has always been, for the last decades, at the core of the French-Ethiopian friendship, in times of joy as in times of sorrow.
However none of us can expect to be in smooth water all our days. It is true that the school experienced some financial difficulties in recent past. The economic context, a high inflation and multiple devaluations of the birr made it quite difficult for our finances to remain sustainable. It almost led us to shut down due to lack of funds in the early 2010’s, and it took a renegotiation of the French-Ethiopian agreement in 2012 to revive our institution and create an advisory board as a structure of local dialogue. Thanks to the considerable amount of effort devoted by the families, the Mission Laïque Française in charge of the high school, and the French government, we managed to come out on the other side of these problems and to substantially improve the situation. The school now faces a much more certain future, although there are still major challenges we will have to respond to.
The ambition of the Mission Laïque Française (MLF) and the board of the school is to give back to the institution its prestige, and to allow the students who chose to go through this binational curriculum to fully benefit from high standards of education. This is why the MLF and the school are taking up investing in real estate, which is necessary if we want to renew the institution and to adapt to the requirements of modern pedagogy.
The construction of a new gymnasium, for a value of 1.2 million euros, bears testimony to this. Students have been using this new infrastructure since December 2d. It has two large halls and can host up to five classes at the same time. We will still need some extra budget from the MLF to build an artificial structure for climbing practice, but we hope we can get that around next spring. With all these new sport facilities the educational offer and the options for national exams will be expanded for all students, from kindergarten to senior year. And we achieved this without any extra cost for the high school or for the families since it was fully taken care of by the MLF.
The opening ceremony for the gymnasium will be held on Friday afternoon, February 7th 2020, and this will also be an opportunity to close the celebrations of the school’s 70th anniversary, and to present the beautiful book realized by the alumni on our school’s history : Le Lycée Guebre Mariam, entre histoire et témoignages.
We are just getting started. We are currently pursuing a very ambitious program of renovation of the property. The buildings will be completely modernized and reorganized within 3 or 4 years. The expected cost for the full renovation of the buildings will rise to approximately 12 million euros, paid by the MLF, which is determined to improve the quality of service.
Our ambition is clear : we want to envision a future for our school that will align with the major challenges of the next decades. I strongly believe that further innovation is needed in space management as well as educational plans and means. We are not trying to freeze our school in its prestigious past ; we want to come up with a plan that will make of this school a leading institution, that will honor its history and build up a future where students will be given the best chances. And we think this requires to aim for excellency, cultural diversity and inclusive education.
The time has come for us to start building. And to do so we will need the teachers, the parents, the students and the whole community to stand together with us. With this help I can assure you we will be able to create a high school for the XXIst century : it will be fully devoted to the generations to come in this great country, and to their bright future and achievements.

Jean-Luc RAGUZ
Headmaster
Lycée Guebre Mariam.