So, what does imagine1day do exactly? This is a question I often struggle with.

Here’s a simple reply: we build schools. This is something you can wrap your mind around. You can see and touch a school.

The thing is, building new schools is just a tiny fraction of what we do. The majority of the work we do is with people.

A teacher pointing at her training notes

Teacher Sucuare proudly shares her training notes

Take for example, our teacher training. imagine1day has trained 410 teachers from 35 schools in the district of Sinana in active learning, life skills, literacy boosting, science and special needs.

These teachers were then given a challenging task: take the knowledge you’ve learned, put it in a training manual and host a workshop to share your knowledge with the other teachers at your school.

Fade Primary School is a testament to the success of this approach.

After gleaning knowledge in active learning from a colleague who attended imagine1day training, Sucuare Worku and her fellow teachers transformed their approach to teaching.

A woman leaning on a fence post on the grounds of the Fade Primary School

Sucuare Worku on the grounds of the Fade Primary School

“Before the training replication, I used to simply lecture to my students. Students were passive listeners before. From the training replication onwards, I try various learning methodology and apply them to each session. Because of the training I became a facilitator and the students active participants,” says Sucuare.

Fade’s school administration quickly noticed a change in student outcomes.

“Before imagine1day the high scores were always boys. The teachers would simply call and ask questions and only the boys would answer. After active learning all the girls are participating more. Now almost all our best students are girls,” says Amante Butto, Fade Primary School’s vice principal.

Students are clearly enjoying their teachers’ new approach.

Tamrat Brahanu, a 12-year-old Grade 6 student, says he is a big fan of the gixo method, which he knows by name. “I like it because the other group shares what they learned with us and we get a different skill or knowledge from them,” he says.

A sign outside of Fade's school grounds that says "if you can not do great things, do small things in a great way!"

Inspirational quotes are found on Fade’s school grounds

Since imagine1day training, Fikadu Worku, Fade’s school principal, says students in school clubs are taking initiative like never before.

“In the female club, they raised money and bought ten uniforms for students who couldn’t afford them. In the civic and ethical education club, they made rope and sold it to buy books for the library. In the sports club, they prepared ropes for jumping and built different exercise equipment.”

“This is mostly after imagine1day training,” says Fikadu. “imagine1day helped school clubs develop visions, missions and purpose. Before the clubs existed but they did nothing. After training, the students now lead the clubs instead of the teachers.”

Sucuare is not the only teacher at Fade who added active learning methods to her repertoire, but she is the first teacher from Fade to be recognized throughout the Bale Zone as a model teacher.

So this is what imagine1day does. This is how we strive to improve the quality of education in rural Ethiopia. Building new schools helps, but the real impact of our work lies in the hands of the leaders who we train and empower throughout the country.

If all goes as planned, communities like Fade won’t need us for much longer. They’re already making waves without us.