Community leaders are taking a stand, literally moving villages, to make it safe for girls to go to school.
In Batali, a community in the district of Meda Welabu, the biggest challenge preventing school enrollment isn’t poor classrooms, it’s community awareness. Just ten years ago, there were just two girls enrolled at Batali Primary School. In 2014, to tackle this problem head on, imagine1day invited 812 influential community leaders throughout the district of Meda Welabu—including 14 from Batali—to attend a series of training sessions to talk about the connection between education and development. Each training session ended with time for group discussions so participants could brainstorm ways to influence positive change in their communities.
“WE ARE SPREADING THE WORD THAT THERE CAN BE NO CHANGE IN OUR SOCIETY IF WE DON’T EDUCATE OUR GIRLS.” — SHUKRI ADAM, PTA MEMBER
In the village of Batali, results quickly materialized. Religious leaders started allowing local teachers to conduct Functional Adult Literacy classes in the mosque after Friday prayers. A consortium of parents, teachers, elders and students walked door to door over the summer to enroll families to register all of their kids in school. And the local Iddir leaders enshrined a new bylaw that imposes a 50 ETB fine to any family with an out-of-school child. “After the coming of imagine1day, the awareness of the community has increased,” says School Principal Abdissa Sheika. “The community-school partnership has improved.” Abdissa says he has also noticed a huge spike in girls’ enrollment. “Before the attitude was that girls are only good for marriage. Now the figures are higher and higher.” Last year, there were just 73 female students. This year, there are 134 girls enrolled in Grades 1 to 6 — an 84% increase.
This Year’s Game Plan
In the second of a three-year project in Meda Welabu, 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
Two 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. Two eight-stall gender divided latrines and one essential school water project 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 8,060 books, 25 science kits, and 30 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 58 schools we’ll train religious leaders, women, influencers, and the PTA. Teachers across the district will receive extensive professional development.
Dry and arid, with acacia trees lining red earth and surrounding statuesque termite towers, Meda Welabu is a pastoralist district known for its extreme heat and wild summer rains. Its education indicators are among the weakest in all of Ethiopia with primary school enrolment at just 46%, drop out rates at 22%, and approximately two thirds the number of girls attending school as compared to boys. Over a three year period, we aim to transform Meda Welabu’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 MEDA WELABU
Meda Welabu is part of the Bale Zone in Ethiopia’s Oromia Region.