Religious leaders are knocking on every door to assure families that religion and education can co-exist.
Plans for construction of a new Grade 5-8 school had only just begun in Yadot, a town in the district of Dello Mena, and already transformation was taking shape.
“I USED TO BELIEVE THAT IF I SENT MY KIDS TO SCHOOL, THAT WAS THE LIMIT OF MY RESPONSIBILITY. NOW I FEEL IT’S MY RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE SURE MY NEIGHBOUR’S KIDS AND MY WHOLE FAMILY IS EDUCATED.”— TEGENE DAME, RELIGIOUS LEADER
Tegene Dame was one of several influential community leaders who walked from house to house each weeknight to ensure that every family enrolled their children in school in 2014: boys, girls, all of them. Dame was one of the first people to participate in imagine1day’s new Religious and Clan Leaders Training, which occurred in February 2014 to kick off planning for this project. imagine1day invited 206 religious and clan leaders from across the district to talk about gender equity and to analyze what religious texts say about education. “During the training, there were some misunderstandings about formal education and religious education, but in the end we finally agreed that both are important and more than that, they are complimentary,” says Dame. Dame is not alone. Leaders of Yadot’s Iddir, an important local community organization, along with representatives of the local Parent Teacher Association and health workers, are all busy collecting students’ names to get their parents’ commitment that they will continue to attend classes this fall. “I believe that religious organizations can make a difference in creating awareness about education. All religions encourage education of all people, but on the ground that hasn’t happened yet. Now I realize it’s my responsibility to think outside the box.”
This Year’s Game Plan
In the second of a three-year project in Dello Mena, our focus is on deepening relationships with communities and the district government, continuing to build the capacity of teachers and school principals and PTAs through essential professional development and leadership programs, while also continuing to build critical infrastructure.
WE’RE BUILDING SCHOOLS AND LATRINES
Three schools to be exact, each with four furnished classrooms serving grades 5-8. We’ll also build an ECE classroom and playground adjacent to each school. Three eight-stall gender divided latrines and two essential school water projects will complete this year’s construction plans. Some communities where we are not building full school projects, will be provided with industrial materials to improve the status of their existing community built schools.
CLASSROOMS WILL BE EQUIPPED WITH KEY NECESSITIES
Across the district we’ll provide 5,939 books, 21 science kits, and 22 sports sets. We’ll also set up creative writing programs and continue to foster youth leadership through student centered school clubs.
TEACHERS AND COMMUNITIES WILL DEVELOP AND GROW
We’ll build leadership across the district by developing the government’s capacity. In 45 schools we’ll train religious leaders, women, influencers, and the PTA. Teachers across the district will receive extensive professional development.
“The passage to Dello Mena from the Bale Mountains is blessed with emerald green hills and rainbows on many days. A primary source of livelihood, coffee bushes can be spotted throughout the district. Its education indicators are among the weakest in all of Ethiopia with only have of school age children enrolled, drop out rates at 18%, and approximately three quarters the number of girls attending school as compared to boys. Over a three year period, we aim to transform Dello Mena’s education system, in partnership with communities and the District Education Office.
Through leadership development programs that we’ll put on for Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs), religious and political leaders, and women’s associations; girls, orphans and other vulnerable children who are often at risk of not going to school, will have an equal opportunity to others. By constructing classrooms to serve Grades 5-8, children who would otherwise drop out of school after the 4th grade because the distance to reach Grade 5 is just too far, will now have the chance to continue learning in a brand new school near to their home. Our early childhood education (ECE) strategy will encourage parents to send their aspiring scholars to school at a young age, inspiring education as a household value and resulting in children starting primary school at the appropriate age. Teacher professional development programs and improvements in the quality of school learning environments will bring achievement and attitude changes across the board, and will help reduce drop outs.
The best part of all, this project is being implemented through a funding partnership with Educate a Child, who have made a commitment to match every dollar you contribute. This is a great chance to double your impact.
WHERE’S DELLO MENA?
Dello Mena is part of the Bale Zone in Ethiopia’s Oromia Region.