Parents committed to their children’s future caught our attention and a partnership was born.
The dirt road that leads into the community of Gulcho is lined with prickly cacti and several bamboo-thatched homes. The road curves sharply to the left and then opens up to reveal the community’s school, which is situated on a plot of land that stretches as far as the eye can see.
“IMAGINE1DAY’S SUPPORT, COUPLED WITH THE COMMUNITY’S CONTRIBUTION, MEANS THAT OUR DREAM OF A BETTER LIFE THROUGH EDUCATION IS BOUND TO COME TRUE”
— GIZEW TOLLA, PTA MEMBER
Constructed in 2008 out of bamboo sticks, stone and mud, the school is a symbol of Gulcho’s commitment to education. “I have worked in several communities during my career as a Principal and I have never witnessed a community more dedicated to education than Gulcho,” explains Principal Tsegaye Defersha. They built a school for their children using whatever resources they had available. The District Education Office wouldn’t assign any teachers to Gulcho’s school because it said that it didn’t meet the government’s standards. But the community didn’t give up. Instead, every household contributed money and together they hired their own teachers.”
Gizew Tolla is a key member of Gulcho’s Parent Teacher Association and has exemplified the level of commitment that Principal Defersha refers to. “I am always ready to contribute my time and skills towards elevating our community,” says Gizew. “We built the existing school without any support from the government. The community raised funds and constructed the school using all of the materials we had available to us at the time: sticks to build a frame and mud in lieu of plaster. We have never had help from outsiders before so we know we can succeed on our own. However, now we have imagine1day’s support. That, coupled with the community’s financial contribution, means that our dream of a better life through education is bound to come true.”
This Year’s Game Plan
We’re getting behind Sinana’s goal to improve its ranking from the lowest in the region, to the highest by the end of 2014.
WE’RE BUILDING SCHOOLS, LIBRARIES, WATER POINTS AND LATRINES
We’ll build five new schools complete with gender divided latrines. Water points will provide a much needed source of fuel for children during the day. Libraries offer a happy place for readers to dive into their studies or a new book.
TEACHERS AND COMMUNITIES WILL DEVELOP AND GROW
We’ll build leadership across the district by developing the government’s capacity. Teachers across the district will receive extensive professional development. Pilot early childhood education programs will be launched.
SCHOOLS WILL BE EQUIPPED WITH KEY NECESSITIES
Across the district we’ll provide books, science kits, and sports sets. We’ll set up student leadership school clubs and creative writing programs too. School playgrounds will be abuzz with children of all ages taking turns.
When we started working in the Sinana district in 2012, learning environments were poor and student outcomes were suffering. More than 23,000 children were squeezed into 35 schools, most of them built out of mud, wood and straw. Sixty per cent of these had no library, half of all schools had no potable water, and only three schools had pit latrines. Sinana was rated at the lowest grade level in the region.
GIZEW TOLLA’S BRIGHT SMILE SPEAKS VOLUMES
But despite these conditions, communities were determined to provide their children the chance to go to school, evidenced by more than a 40% increase in primary school enrollment between 2004 and 2012. Confident in the commitment of the people of Sinana, imagine1day entered into a partnership with the district to help catalyse a transformation.
Over the following two and a half years we constructed five new schools creating access to primary education for 2,000 children, and we launched a district wide capacity building program, providing leadership and professional development training to teachers, principals, and community leaders across 35 schools. We also distributed thousands of books, provided materials for school clubs and sports teams, and provided schools with science kits and chemicals.
Reinvigorated and empowered, community members started improving their schools: 22 communities built new libraries and 25 communities built pit latrines for the first time. In just 13 months, student grades increased by 5%, drop outs decreased by 3% and the net enrollment rate increased by 18%.