Gabre Mariam School: The Franco-Ethiopian Lycee in the 1958

  Another among the Ethiopian students at Cairo who after his schooldays was to serve Ethiopia with com­petence and devotion is the brother of Aklilou, Ato Akelework Haptewold. For many years he was Vice-Minister of Education and also the Ethiopian Ambassa­dor in Paris. These are the most prominent, but many others were also noteworthy. Several of these brilliant youths however were cruelly murdered during the Italian occupation—many of them at the time of the great massacre of February 1937.

  Aklilou Haptewold after taking the French baccalaureate in Cairo proceeded to Paris where he was a student at the Sorbonne when the Italian aggression at Wai Wai ushered in Italy’s tragic invasion of Ethiopia.

  Aklilou then became an eloquent and popular speaker in defence of his country’s cause at public meetings throughout France.

  During that campaign relations of warm friendship grew up between the young Ethiopian student and the veteran French statesman, Edouard Herriot.

  After the liberation of Ethiopia in 1942, after France had herself fallen victim to the Axis aggressors and her soil had in time been freed of them. Foreign Minister Aklilou, on behalf of the Ethiopian Government, en­quired of Herriot, by this time President of the French National Assembly, whether the French would be dis­posed to open in Addis Ababa a Lycee such as he had attended in Cairo. Herriot strongly approved the project. The necessary official steps having been taken by both governments, the Franco-Ethiopian Lycee, which bears the name "Gabre Mariam" in honour of a famous Ethiopian hero of the national resistance, was opened on March 15th, 1948 under the auspices of the Mission Laique Francaise.

  Toward the upkeep of the Lycee the Ethiopian Government provided (1958) 100,000 Ethiopian dollars annu­ally, as well as the school premises and the extensive grounds in which they stand. . The French provide 208,000 (1958) Ethiopian dollars annually.

  There were no boarders; all were day pupils. A charge of 5 (1958) Ethiopian dollars (about 15/-) is made monthly for Ethiopian students, and of 15 (1958) Ethiopian dollars for foreigners. These charges were of course extremely low, but the Lycee exists primarily for service as well as having to compete with Ethiopian Government schools which are completely free and at the secondary level provide also free board, lodging and clothing. Nevertheless the Lycee, having commenced in 1948 with 391 pupils had in 1958 a total of 1,300 pupils boys and 620 girls.

  The school was hard-pressed to accommodate so large a population of pupils; its main building was long since filled; some classes were held in temporary buildings situated in the grounds; some were even working in old temporary structures in the National Library garden which is ten minutes walk distant. A great new additional building was erected by the Ethiopian Government on adjacent land.

  Among the pupils were 29 nationalities: 840 Ethiopians, 85 French, 100 Italians, 35 Americans, 25 Greeks, 20 Dutch, 18 English, 18 Germans, 17 Swedes, 12 Nor­wegians, 8 Swiss, 6 Egyptians, 6 from Iran, the rest from Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Hungary, etc.

  At all ages the pupils agreed marvellously well to­gether; the Director, M. Berlan, indicated there was no trace of rancour between the French and German child­ren or the Ethiopian and Italian.

  As in other schools, there was a diminution of pupils in the higher classes, as compared with those in the lower, particularly among the girls, but the tendency to leave early among both boys and girls was progressively being reduced.

  The Lycee has kindergarten, primary and secondary departments. The pupils of the elementary classes sit for the examination qualifying for the French certificate of proficiency in primary studies; pupils of the secondary departments take the French baccalaureat examination. In the courses for the baccalaureat examination, students may specialise either in mathematics, giving lesser attention to science, or they may specialise in science (the course is termed science experimentale), giving lesser attention to mathematics. There was also a course in philosophy, but it was not held in Ethiopia as there is little demand for it, science being more attrac­tive to Ethiopian youth who considered their country has very special need to make progress in the scientific field.

  Part II of the baccalaureat which gave access to French Universities was first passed by pupils of the Addis Ababa Lycee in 1958. Between 1952 and 1957, 31 pupils were studying for this examination.

  Former students of the Addis Ababa Lycee who have been successful in Part II of the baccalaureat include:

JOHANNES KASSA, Faculty of Science of Paris. Now a teacher of mathematics in the Franco-Ethiopian Lycee in Addis Ababa.

BERHANOU ABEBE, Faculty of Law, University of Paris.

EPHREM ASFAU, Faculty of Medicine, University of Paris.

ASSEFA KASSA, Faculty of Science, University of Paris.

TAYE MANGASHA, School of Agriculture of Toulouse.

AHMED DIRIA, Ecole Brequet, Paris.

WORHKOU TAFARA, Faculty of Medicine, University of Paris.

MARKOS KAYBAGHTAN. Faculty of Medicine of Montpellier.

OMAR EL HABASHI, Advanced Commercial Studies. (H.E.C.), Paris.

BEDRU BOUCHRA, Faculty of Medicine, Montpellier.

MAKONNEN BALATCHOU, Civil Engineering, Paris.

  Also studying at the Sevigne Lyceum in Paris to be kindergarten teachers:



  Three former Ethiopian pupils of the Lycee who did not take the baccalaureat went on to studying biology at the American University of Beyrout:




  Three other former Ethiopian pupils who did not take the baccalaureat went to studying in Paris:

ZAUDIE RETTA, School of International Journalism.


GATACHOU BALATCHOU, Course for Librarians.

  The Lycee has thus a number of successes to its credit; In 1958, 9 pupils sat for the second part of the baccalaureat, their names and the vocations they intend to follow are:


ALMAZ FETENE, Veterinary.


FIKRE JUSUF, Veterinary.


MEDE DERESSA, Electrical Engineering.

INGEDA GABRE MEDHEN, Electrical Engineering.

GATACHOU ABEBE, Electrical Engineering.

MOHANE D. OMAR, Electrical Engineering.

  M. Berlan indicated that the pupils of the Lycee speak much better English than is usual with children of the same age in France. Mme. Amour, an English­woman who has become a French subject by marriage, and has taught English in France is one of the three teachers of English on the Gabre Mariam staff. She arrived from France in October, 1957, and was much surprised to find Ethiopian children speaking English with great fluency and admirable pronunciation. They far out-distance French children in this respect, she insisted. In short, their proficiency in English reached a very high standard.

  The curriculum is directed mainly toward the bacca­laureat. Therefore French history and geography are included. The school is laique; therefore it does not give religious instruction, leaving parents to teach what they please of this subject. The younger children were taught to sew. There are gymnastics for all.

  The main building, situated in a large pleasant garden, was surrounded by tall geraniums whose cheerful scarlet blossoms remain in bloom all the year round, as happens in Ethiopia. A structure of one storey, its outer walls protected by barge-boards, it appears as a large homely bungalow, it is brightly decorated in the style of a well-cared for nursery and is furnished with chairs and tables suited to the dimension of its little people.

  In the classroom of the youngest pupils, who are only three or four years old, the children built towers and castles with pieces of wood of various shapes and sizes, brightly painted in divers colours.

  Other pupils arranged little flat pieces of wood, cut out to resemble animals diminishing in size. These they inserted in wooden trays each cut so that a row of animals could fit into it.

  The kindergarten has also outgrown its premises; an adjacent piece of land had been acquired from private ownership by the Ethiopian Government enabling another school-house of size equal to the present one to be erected and another large garden to be added.


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