Maykuho School sits amid a drought-stricken landscape. The nearby river remains historically low. Boxes of emergency food rations can be found in houses throughout the community.
Yet, ask the school’s PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) about the impact of the drought, and their response is surprisingly stoic.
School PTA members outside the extra classrooms constructed by the community.
“Our job is to mobilize the community, manage finances and support the students and teachers. For the community, the drought is a challenge. But the drought is not a challenge for us, because the community is mobilized and remains committed to education,” says Tekleweyni Gebreali, the PTA Chairman.
Two years’ ago – when the drought was at its worst – we selected Maykuho as a community where we would build a new school. We asked that they contribute at least 10% of the construction costs, ensuring they had a stake in the school.
The community did that, and then even more – donating an additional 52 goats, labour and materials – worth US$3450 – to build two more classrooms.
Fellow PTA member Letekidan Gebrehuwhit says the turnaround reflects an incredible change in attitudes towards education.
It was prompted by the training imagine1day provided the PTA, who put it to use in community meetings.
“Over coffee we asked how can we solve this [lack of education]. Through discussion we, as a community, agreed we could make our children educated. From the students, up to the eldest, we are committed to education. Even people from this community who have since left have heard of this change, and they are supporting us.
“A drought will not stop us.”
Students in their new classrooms at Maykuho School
It is a far cry from seven years ago, when the school was created, says Tekleweyni, who has served on the PTA since then.
“Back then, we had only the name for the school. We had no facilities or criteria – just a mandate to create a school. We had 62 students and one teacher, learning in an open-air classroom.
“Today the school is beautiful, 680 students attend, and the community is committed.”
Maykuho School was funded with support from Educate a Child, Mark, Neelam and Rachel Sherling, Riyaz Devji, PCI Developments and the generous donors of imagine1day.