By Roy Mabasa
In 1970 137 Filipino teachers traveled to Ethiopia to answer that African nation’s need for educators.
Upon their arrival in that country, they were immediately dispersed to the remotest areas to teach young Ethiopians. Little did these Filipino teachers know that their efforts and sacrifices will make a huge impact on the Ethiopian education system.
Nearly 50 years later, the legacy and inspiring work of these pioneering Filipino teachers is being recognized.
Just recently, a commemorative book on the story of these Filipino teachers was launched as a culminating event in the celebration of the 40th year of the formal establishment of Philippine-Ethiopia diplomatic relations.
Entitled “Filipino Footprints in Africa: The Pioneering Mission of Filipino Teachers in Ethiopia,” a copy of this book was presented to Ambassador Shiferaw Jarso, nonresident Ambassador of Ethiopia to the Philippines, by Undersecretary Ernesto Abella during the latter’s visit to the Philippines at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Jarso, himself, felt personal nostalgia during the presentation recalling that he was a student of Narciso Gabriel, one of the 137 teachers. He credited his Filipino teacher for his decision to pursue his university education.
The book, published by the Office of Middle East and African Affairs of the DFA, will be distributed among government agencies and diplomatic missions in Addis Ababa as well as the various Philippine schools where the 137 teachers taught prior to going to Ethiopia.
Philippine-Ethiopia diplomatic relations were established on February 7, 1977.